Movies & TV / News

Warner Bros. Shelves John Cena’s Coyote vs. Acme Despite Completion To Take Tax Write-Off

November 9, 2023 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Wile E Coyote vs. Acme Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The John Cena-starring Coyote vs. Acme film will not see the light of day, with Warner Bros. shelving the film for a tax write-off. Deadline reports that the live-action & animated hybrid comedy will not be released and that the studio will take a $30 million write-off for doing so.

Coyote vs. Acme is the third film that the studio has shelved for tax savings under David Zaslav following Batgirl and the animated Scoob Holiday Haunt!. Coyote vs. Acme is different from the other two in that it was fully completed and reportedly had great audience test scores, well above the normal scores for a family film. However, WB is short on cash and they decided it wasn’t worth the cost to give a theatrical release, or to sell to buyers despite the fact that there were a number of parties interested in buying it for their streaming services including Amazon. The film reportedly had a $70 million budget and was originally set for a summer release on July 21st of this year before being pulled. That spot was eventually filled by Barbie, which has become a massive hit for the studio with $1.4 billion worldwide.

As reported earlier, Cena posted to Instagram with a picture of the Warner Bros. animated story-concluding background reading “The End,” which now appears to be related to this news.

A Warner Bros. spokesperson said, “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.”

Warner Bros., like many other studios, is short on potential films coming up due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes taking so long to resolve. Zaslav, the head of Warner Bros. Discovery, was involved in negotiations with both guilds on behalf of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers along with other studio heads including Disney’s Bob Iger, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, and NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley.

Coyote Vs. Acme starred Cena, Will Forte and Lana Candor and was directed by David Green from a script by Sammy Burch. It followed Wile E. Coyote, who after ACME products fail him one too many times in his dogged pursuit of the Roadrunner, decides to hire a billboard lawyer to sue the ACME Corporation. The case pits Wile E. and his lawyer (Forte) against the latter’s intimidating former boss (Cena), but a growing friendship between man and cartoon stokes their determination to win.