Warner Bros. Shelves ‘Coyote vs. Acme’ Despite Completion, Directors Cry Foul

The animated/live-action hybrid movie follows in the footsteps of scrapped features “Batgirl” and “Scoob! Holiday Haunt”

Coyote Roadrunner
"Coyote vs. Acme" (Credit: Warner Bros.)

“Coyote vs. Acme,” a live-action movie that stars John Cena, Will Forte and Lana Condor, has been shelved by Warner Bros. a year after it was completed.

This follows Warner Bros. similarly shelving nearly completed features “Batgirl” and “Scoob’s Haunted Holiday.”

“With the re-launch of Warner Bros. Pictures Animation in June, the studio has shifted its global strategy to focus on theatrical releases. With this new direction, we have made the difficult decision not to move forward with ‘Coyote vs Acme.’ We have tremendous respect for the filmmakers, casts, and crew, and are grateful for their contributions to the film,” a Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group spokesperson said.

The movie was an adaptation of a 1990 short story by Ian Frazier that first appeared in the New Yorker. Development on the project began back in 2018, with Chris McKay (“The Lego Batman Movie,” “Renfield”) attached as a producer. Shortly afterward, Dave Green, director of “Earth to Echo” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” was attached to direct. In 2020 McKay left, with screenwriter Samy Burch working alongside James Gunn and Jeremy Slater on the screenplay (ultimately Burch received sole screenplay credit with Gunn and Slater reciveing a “story by” credit).

The story would have followed Wile E. Coyote, the hapless coyote who is always attempting to down the roadrunner, as he sues ACME Corporation, the company responsible for all of his malfunctioning equipment. Forte would have played the coyote’s lawyer, while Cena would have been the bad guy – the attorney for ACME.

Since the movie had been done for some time, it had also tested – and tested well by all accounts. Filmmaker Brian Duffield (“No One Will Save You”) tweeted, “I have seen this movie and it is excellent. It also tested in the high 90s repeatedly. It also had interested buyers. The people working at Warner Bros are anti-art and I hope multiple anvils drop on their heads.” Similarly, filmmaker Peter Atencio (“The Machine”) tweeted: “This is INSANE. First of all, f— a business model that incentivizes this. Secondly, this movie is GREAT. I was lucky to get to see some and it’s hilarious, with incredible animation. What a disgusting turn of events, especially with a huge gaping hole in the release calendar.”

While the decision to shelve “Coyote vs. Acme” was due to a tax write-off (just like “Batgirl” and the “Scoob” sequel), the official word is that Warner Bros. Animation, which re-launched this past June, has shifted its focus, with Green already in development with another project at Warner Bros., this time for New Line Cinema. Warner Bros. Animation, is currently focused on developing movies for a global theatrical audience, with the intention to release two films theatrically every year beginning in 2026. Currently on the docket are two features from Britain’s Locksmith Studios (“Ron’s Gone Wrong”) – “Bad Fairies” and “The Lunar Chronicles,” with a pair of Dr. Seuss adaptations in the works as well, with “Cat in the Hat” and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Warner Bros. hasn’t had an in-house apparatus for feature animated film production since the late 1990s.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported Warner Bros.’ decision on “Coyote vs. Acme.”

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