Filmmakers Slam Warner Bros.’ Plans to Shelve ‘Coyote vs. Acme’

The studio’s intention, which Phil Lord calls “anticompetitive,” runs the risk of destroying relationships with talent and fans alike

coyote vs acme wile e coyote
Warner Bros.

As reported in TheWrap’s exclusive story by Drew Taylor on Friday, the Warner Bros. film “Coyote vs. Acme” is on track never to see the light of day, and filmmakers have been incensed. Both fans of the movie and Hollywood creatives alike have rallied around the film on social media in response to the story.

The reasons for the studio not releasing the film seem to boil down to four executives, none of whom have seen the movie in its final form, not believing they’ll get the financial return desired from its release. Instead, “Coyote vs. Acme” could, like “Batgirl” before it, simply disappear. With Warner Bros. Discovery’s fourth quarter earnings call set for Feb. 23, the film is running out of time, as many on its team feel the studio will use the occasion as an opportunity to get the movie off of their financial books.

The response has been swift and thunderous. “Spider-Verse” writer/producer Phil Lord unleashed a handful of posts on X (formerly Twitter) in which he questioned the studio’s motivation and operational ethics.

“Is it anticompetitive if one of the biggest movie studios in the world shuns the marketplace in order to use a tax loophole to write off an entire movie so they can more easily merge with one of the other biggest movie studios in the world? ‘Cause it SEEMS anticompetitive,” Lord wrote.

“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” writer BenDavid Grabinski wrote that “Coyote vs. Acme” “made me cry and I hope people get to see it,” to which Lord added, “Big laughs. Big heart. Big ideas. Plays better than many films that will be released theatrically this year.”

Zack Stentz, a veteran screenwriter, wrote that one of the heaviest casualties over the potential cancellation of the film will be relationships between studios and the creative minds who concoct the magic that makes them money in the first place.

“The entertainment industry runs on relationships with talent,” Stentz wrote, firing back at a perspective shared by journalist Jeff Sneider arguing in favor of Warner Bros.’ justification for not releasing the film. “And if a studio gets the reputation for being a place that will bury your film to get a tax break, that damages relationships with writers, directors, and actors,” Stentz added.

In a second tweet, Stentz referenced the success of “Oppenheimer.” “Like, how much did Warner lose by pissing off Chris Nolan enough to take his business to Universal? Hundreds of millions of dollars and counting.” Nolan left Warner Bros. with which he had long been associated with, following frustration with the pandemic-era release strategy around his film “Tenet.”

“The Greatest Beer Run Ever” associate producer Joe Russo weighed in on the mess and included a warning for Warner Bros. in light of the months-long dual SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes.

“Studios cannot keep shelving movies for tax credits,” Russo argued. “It’s unfair to the cast & crew. It’s unfair to taxpayers. It’s unfair to audiences. If a good Looney Tunes movie isn’t viable, what is? Lawyers need to work penalties in. The gov. needs to step up. Or in 2026, unions will.”

“Coyote vs. Acme” editor Carsten Kurpanek posited that, when it comes to this movie, maybe art is imitating life.

He tweeted, “#CoyoteVsAcme is about a giant corporation choosing stock over empathy, doing nothing ‘illegal’ but morally shady stuff for profit. It’s a David vs Goliath story. It’s about the cynical and casual cruelness of capitalism and corporate greed. No wonder Warner doesn’t want to #releasecoyoteVsACME.”

Others took a spirited, if not cynical, approach. As TV writer Heather Anne Campbell put it, “so many children dream of moving to Hollywood, becoming an executive, and destroying all copies of a movie they didn’t work on. truth be told, I remember sitting on the floor of my living room, watching the Oscars, imagining deleting the nominees for the tax breaks.”

Writer, producer and director Liz Hannah suggested that perhaps it’s time for someone, somewhere, to take matters into their own hands.

She tweeted, “I’m not saying someone should leak the movie but if someone leaked the movie maybe we could watch the movie that was leaked and tell the people who didn’t want it leaked that the movie that was leaked was great and they were dumb for not releasing the movie before it was leaked.”

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