The scrapped “Coyote Vs. Acme” has now garnered a filmmakers vs. Warner Bros. campaign on social media.
On private Facebook group Crew Stories, “Coyote Vs. Acme” crew member Nate Bannister posted (and gave IndieWire permission to quote) his frustration. “I was Key ALM [assistant location manager] on this movie, almost died of stress pulling all the permits, we closed down the entirety of downtown Albuquerque, I had to call in every favor of my career to close an overpass with a half a days notice, I got so many angry calls from neighbors, business owners, etc day and night, working on this movie almost tore apart my relationship with my fiancée,” he wrote. “Why do I work in this industry?”
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The live-action and animated hybrid film starring John Cena was officially axed by Warner Bros. November 9 as a tax write-off for its Q3 earnings, even though the film had been finished. The $70 million project was completed in New Mexico in 2022, and was set to stream on Max. James Gunn produced the feature and was also credited with the story; “May December” screenwriter Samy Burch penned the script with Dave Green directing.
“Coyote Vs. Acme” was inspired by a 1990 New Yorker short story about an Acme warehouse filled with the traps Wile E. Coyote uses to attack Roadrunner. The film has been compared to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” The completed movie had an original July 21 release date, which was replaced by Warner Bros.’ billion-dollar movie “Barbie.”
“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,'” a Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group spokesperson said. “We have tremendous respect for the filmmakers, casts, and crew, and are grateful for their contributions to the film. This was a tough decision, and we recognize and deeply appreciate the effort and time that goes into making a movie.”
Now, “Coyote Vs. Acme” crew members are taking to social media to voice how Warner Bros. is “anti-art,” especially following the respective cancellations of “Batgirl” and “Scoob Holiday Haunt.”
Director Green wrote, “For three years, I was lucky enough to make a movie about Wile E. Coyote, the most persistent, passionate, and resilient character of all time. I was surrounded by a brilliant team, who poured their souls into this project for years. We were all determined to honor the legacies of these historic characters and actually get them right. Along the ride, we were embraced by test audiences who rewarded us with fantastic scores. I am beyond proud of the final product, and beyond devastated by WB’s decision. But in the spirit of Wile E. Coyote, resilience and persistence win the day.”
Deadline reported that Green is currently working on another Warner Bros. project.
Actor Cena simply posted a “Looney Tunes” title card reading “The End” on Instagram.
Composer Steven Price tweeted, “Had a lot of fun scoring ‘Coyote Vs Acme.’ As no-one will be able to hear it now, due to bizarre anti-art studio financial shenanigans I will never understand, here is a bit of behind the scenes footage of our ‘Meep Meep’ Roadrunner choir, with apologies to Tchaikovsky…”
The musician added in a comment, “This is a weird one, for sure! Good film, scrubbed from existence…” and later, “grim times.”
Price previously admitted he was “disappointed and somewhat mystified” that the film was canceled. “That’s (fuck) all folks!” he concluded.
Other creatives throughout the industry added to the chorus of criticism.
Writer-director Brian Duffield wrote that the completed film was “excellent” and “tested in the high 90s repeatedly” with audiences. “It also had interested buyers,” Duffield said. “The people working at Warner Bros are anti-art and I hope multiple anvils drop on their heads.”
“Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” co-developer and co-writer BenDavid Grabinski said “Coyote Vs. Acme” was the “best of its kind since ‘Roger Rabbit.’ It’s commercial. It tested well. The leads are super likable. It’s beautifully shot. The animation is great. The ending makes everyone fucking cry. I thought the goal of this business was to make hit movies?”
Director Peter Atencio said, “This is INSANE. First of all, fuck 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.”
“Hellboy” (2004) screenwriter Peter Briggs wrote, “David Zaslav has turned a functioning movie studio into a mechanism to pay him an obscene amount of money annually, while not actually releasing movies.”
IndieWire has reached out to Warner Bros. for comment.
Dana Harris-Bridson contributed to this report.
Had a lot of fun scoring Coyote Vs Acme. As no-one will be able to hear it now, due to bizarre anti-art studio financial shenanigans I will never understand, here is a bit of behind the scenes footage of our “Meep Meep” Roadrunner choir, with apologies to Tchaikovsky… pic.twitter.com/HL7h00rXpp
— Steven Price (@SteveBPrice) November 10, 2023
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