A Costly Animated Film’s Uncertain Future: Coyote vs. Acme

A Costly Animated Film’s Uncertain Future: Coyote vs. Acme

Warner Bros recently screened their animated live-action hybrid movie, Coyote vs. Acme, to potential buyers at a buy price of $70M+. However, despite bids from Netflix and Paramount, the offers were lower than the asking price, leading Warner Bros to believe that competitors did not see the film’s value. As a result, the film remains unreleased, and Warner Bros took a $70M writedown on Q3 earnings, signaling the uncertainty surrounding Coyote vs. Acme’s future.

While Warner Bros has not actively pursued a sale for the film, there is still a glimmer of hope that Coyote vs. Acme may find a home. However, the options seem limited, and it is unclear whether other studios or producers are willing to take on the project. Despite the success of Phil Lord’s Lego Movie, which earned over $471M, Lord criticized Warner Bros on Twitter, questioning their motives and suggesting that the studio’s actions may be anticompetitive.

Lord’s criticism stems from his belief that Warner Bros is using the film as a tax writeoff to facilitate a merger with another major studio. The decision to scrap a fully made film for tax breaks is seen as predatory and anti-competitive by Lord and others, including Texas congressman Joaquin Castro. Castro compared Warner Bros’ actions to burning down a building for insurance money, calling for a review of the studio’s conduct by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

While Warner Bros’ CEO, David Zaslav, has denied personally rejecting Coyote vs. Acme, his administration, led by CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels, has a reputation for cost-cutting measures and layoffs. It is unclear whether these internal factors influenced the decision to not release the film. Despite reportedly testing marketing materials and showing intent to release, Warner Bros ultimately decided against it, leaving the fate of Coyote vs. Acme uncertain.

Interestingly, the film generated interest from the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, which expressed a desire to include Coyote vs. Acme in its programming lineup. However, Warner Bros declined to screen the film at the event, leaving the decision in the hands of the festival organizers. It remains to be seen whether SXSW will take a chance on the film and provide it with a platform for release.

Coyote vs. Acme, an animated live-action hybrid movie, remains in limbo as Warner Bros struggles to find a buyer willing to meet their asking price. The studio’s decision to take a $70M writedown on Q3 earnings reflects the uncertainty surrounding the film’s future. While options like a potential sale to Netflix or Paramount may still be on the table, there are doubts about whether Warner Bros will be able to recoup the film’s production cost. Additionally, concerns over anticompetitive behavior and the use of Coyote vs. Acme as a tax writeoff have sparked controversy within the industry. Only time will tell if this costly venture will find its place in the competitive world of animation and live-action hybrid films.


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