Why Was John Cena’s ‘Coyote vs. Acme’ Shelved by Warner Bros. A Year after It Finished Filming?
Warner Bros. another canned movie. The Hollywood Reporter The news broke yesterday, much to the chagrin of John Cena’s loyal fans – sometimes known as the “Cenation.” Within an hour of breaking the news, fans rallied petition demanded the Coyote vs. acmes released.
The romp married CG animation and live-action in a similar style Space Jam and Who Framed Roger Rabbitand it was based on a 1990s New York article The plot focused on Wile E. Coyote who finally takes the company to court after years of bodily harm caused by Acme products. Despite the fact that the production was completed more than a year ago, it has been unceremoniously canceled by Warner Bros.
Although fans quickly rallied, the studio was unlikely to succeed. Even with John Cena’s raw charisma, director Brain Duffield claims it is test audiences loved the filmand the film has a script co-written by studio darling James Gunn himself, it’s likely that we’ll never have the chance to watch the animated adventure.
Why was John Cena’s movie shelved?
Warner Bros’ reasons for shelving the film reflect its latest global strategy. The company wants to focus on theatrical releases in the coming years, and hopes to release two films a year. This is not the first time the company has rebranded. It started as Warner Bros. Feature Animation (1994-2004), then changed to Warner Animation Group (2013-2023). The latest iteration of the division, Warner Bros., is headed by former Dream Works exec Bill Damaschke, who was appointed back in June 2023. Picture Animation.
In 2020, WAG took a streaming-first approach to help drive subscription numbers to the new HBO Max. The change meant that fewer resources were going towards theatrical releases, and the studio only released one animated film per year. The new WBPA aims to shift back towards theatrical releases in the post-pandemic days. Deadline reports that it seems across the board, with Sony and Universal executives pushing the idea that in order to break the cultural zeitgeist in a meaningful way, a film must be released in theaters first. We’re a little confused about the reasoning here, many direct-to-streaming releases or compilations have implanted themselves into the public’s brain: Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and Encanto!, just to name a few. But none of those releases came close Top Gun: Maverickindelible public appeal.
So how does this new approach force multi-million dollar shows down the toilet? Warner Bros. probably didn’t see how Batgirla measly $90 million budget, Coyote vs. Acme‘s $70 million price tag, or Scoob: Holiday Haunt$40 million could be the same as Marvel’s mega hitters The Marvels’ Only $270-million-dollars.
What it really comes down to is money. Every film that Warner Bros. locks. in his crotch Zaslav gets a lot closer to getting a grip on the company’s $3 billion debt, albeit not dollar for dollar. The company is he probably makes back only a fraction of what he spent, with only the first $15 million fully deducted. Anything below that, and the company is making a loss.
Canceling movies left and right isn’t the only way Warner Bros is marginalizing the number of movies. The massive slashes in Max’s archive are another move the company is looking for. He tried to do the same with Turner Classic Movies (which is central to the preservation of classic films) before a group of directors, led by Steven Spielberg no less, pushed back.
Each piece of archival media is another way that Warner Bros. can. cashing in on tax breaks – and those scary residual payments that shut down the industry for more than 5 months (Zaslav says the company lost about $300-400 million due to protests). It’s hard to feel bad for the CEO when he makes $22 million in bonuses on top of his $3 million salary.
Unlike those unlucky people who are involved Batgirl and the Scope! sequel, team of Coyote they had advance notice before their production was vaulted for good. Director Dave Green may not have been happy with how it all worked out, but he had this to say: “I’m extremely proud of the final product, and extremely devastated by WB’s decision. But in the spirit of Wile E. Coyote, resilience and persistence win the day.”
Hopefully Warner Bros. didn’t. burn this bridge, and let Green get hold of his Roadsight.
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