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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Benjamin Lee

Warner Bros shelves completed $70m Coyote vs Acme movie

Large white man with brown hair in jersey long-sleeved T-shirt, navy
Coyote vs Acme starred Cena, Will Forte and and Lana Condor. Photograph: Andrew H Walker/REX/Shutterstock

Warner Bros is reportedly shelving a completed $70m movie to take an estimated $30m tax write-down.

The “difficult” decision has been made not to release the live-action/animation hybrid movie Coyote vs Acme starring Will Forte, John Cena and Lana Condor, according to a statement.

“With the re-launch of Warner Bros Pictures Animation in June, the studio has shifted its global strategy to focus on theatrical releases,” the statement reads. “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.”

Production on the film had completed last year and, according to Deadline, test screenings had already been underway with results 14 points above the norm for a family movie. It had originally been set for release this July but was pulled.

The writer-director Brian Duffield 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.”

The decision follows the studio’s decision to pull the plug on the $90m Batgirl last year despite the film being in post-production. The film starred Leslie Grace, Michael Keaton and Brendan Fraser and will now never reach an audience. The studio also cancelled the release of the $40m sequel Scoob! Holiday Haunt. All three films were given the green light by Jason Kilar before his successor, David Zaslav, took over.

Reportedly, Warners didn’t see it financially viable to try to sell Coyote vs Acme to another studio or release it on its platform Max. The news comes after quarterly earnings reported a net loss of $417m.

The film was directed by David Green, whose credits include 2016’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, and written by Samy Burch, who has received acclaim for her screenplay for Todd Haynes’ upcoming drama May December.

The plot of Coyote vs Acme saw Looney Tunes character Wile E Coyote pursue legal action against Acme after the company’s products failed him in his pursuit of Road Runner. It was based on a New Yorker article by Ian Frazier from 1990.

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