The Rocky Road of Coyote vs. Acme: A Costly Animated Film in Limbo

In the world of filmmaking, not every project becomes a guaranteed success. Such is the case with the animated live-action hybrid movie, Coyote vs. Acme, produced by Warner Bros. Despite a high production cost of over $70 million, the film failed to find a buyer willing to meet its price tag. Although Netflix and Paramount showed interest and submitted bids, their offers fell significantly below the asking price, leaving Warner Bros. disappointed and unsure of what to do with their unreleased creation.

Warner Bros. faced an unfortunate financial setback as a result of the film’s lack of success. The studio was forced to take a $70 million writedown on their Q3 earnings, a substantial loss that no doubt left them reeling. While the film’s fate was already sealed when Warner Bros. decided not to release it in November, the writedown served as a painful reminder of the potential profits lost and the uncertainty surrounding Coyote vs. Acme.

Despite the bleak outlook for Coyote vs. Acme, there may still be a glimmer of hope for its future. Although Warner Bros. has shown no active effort in selling the film, sources indicate that the door has not been completely closed on its prospects. Perhaps there is a potential buyer out there, someone like David Ellison, who could acquire the film and leverage a deal with platforms like Skydance’s Netflix in order to salvage it. However, as time goes on, optimism fades, and Warner Bros. seems solely focused on recovering their initial investment rather than turning any profit.

The fallout from the failed release of Coyote vs. Acme has not gone unnoticed, even within the film industry itself. Filmmaker Phil Lord, known for his success with Warner Bros. through The Lego Movie, publicly criticized the studio on Twitter, accusing them of using “a tax loophole to write off an entire movie.” Lord’s tweet raises concerns over potential anticompetitive behavior and the impact of such actions on the marketplace. His frustration is shared by others who had the opportunity to see Coyote vs. Acme and recognize its comedic potential, including Chris Miller, Michael Chaves, and Daniel Scheinert.

Congressional Controversy

Joaquin Castro, a Texas congressman, added fuel to the fire by condemning Warner Bros.’ attempts to use a tax writeoff for a fully completed film. Castro argues that such practices are predatory and anti-competitive, suggesting that the actions of the studio should be scrutinized by regulatory bodies such as the Justice Department and FTC. Castro’s comparison of the situation to “burning down a building for the insurance money” highlights the perceived dishonesty behind Warner Bros.’ decision.

Despite the heated debates and criticism surrounding Coyote vs. Acme, the film remains trapped in purgatory. Warner Bros. has no plans to actively promote the film for a sale, leaving its fate uncertain. The studio’s financial loss and growing reputation for cost-cutting under the current administration have cast a shadow over the film industry’s perception of their decision-making process. Moreover, potential opportunities for showcasing the film, such as a slot at the SXSW festival, were missed due to Warner Bros.’ reluctance to screen it.

In the end, the fate of Coyote vs. Acme lies in the hands of Warner Bros. and their willingness to explore alternative options. As each day passes, the likelihood of the film finding a new home diminishes, and it risks becoming a forgotten casualty of the industry. Only time will tell if the studio will make a surprising turnaround or if Coyote vs. Acme will remain a cautionary tale of a costly misstep in filmmaking.


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