‘Coyote v Acme’ shelved by Warner Bros Discovery, despite the film being completed - but might be saved

Warner Bros Discovery has shelved another movie from its schedule, the John Cena-led animated comedy ‘Coyote v Acme.’

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Another Warner Bros. Discovery movie has been cancelled, despite filming being completed for the project. The studio has decided against releasing ‘Coyote vs. Acme,’ a live-action-animation hybrid featuring John Cena, despite the completion of filming in 2022.

The $30m ‘Coyote vs. Acme,’ was approved under the previous leadership led by Jason Kilar and was initially intended for release on HBO Max

The current Warner Bros. Discovery CEO, David Zaslav, succeeding Kilar, has redirected the studio's focus towards theatrical releases, deeming this particular movie incompatible with the new creative direction of the company. This decision also follows Bill Damaschke taking charge of Warner Animation Group earlier this year. 

A spokesperson for Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group explained the shift in strategy: "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."

Directed by Dave Green and produced by DC Studios co-chief James Gunn, who also contributed to the story inspired by the Looney Tunes character, ‘Coyote vs. Acme’ was announced in 2020 with a scheduled release date of July 21, 2023. However, it was later removed from the calendar entirely, replaced by Greta Gerwig’s anticipated ‘Barbie.’

Green expressed disappointment with Warner Bros.' decision. On social media, he conveyed his feelings: "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 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."

However, there might be a new lease of life for the film, with Puck reporting that WB Discovery might allow the film to be shopped around to other studios.

What other films have been shelved despite being completed?

This decision mirrors a similar occurrence just over a year ago when Warner Bros. surprised the industry by scrapping the $90m-budgeted DC adventure ‘Batgirl’ and the family-friendly ‘Scoob! Holiday Haunt,’ marking them as tax write-offs.

In 2002, ‘Empire’ starring John Leguizamo was completed but faced distribution issues, and the release was cancelled after the distributor faced financial difficulties. Kenneth Lonergan’s ‘Margaret’ in 2011 faced significant post-production delays and legal issues, leading to a protracted editing process. It was eventually released in 2011 but suffered from limited distribution and a troubled production history.

‘Jane Got a Gun,’ a western film starring Natalie Portman in 2016, went through a troubled production, including director changes and financial issues. Despite being completed, it faced delays and challenges in securing a wide release.

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