‘Coyote Vs. Acme’: With Pic’s Fate In Limbo At Warners, Phil Lord Observes, “How Funny It Would Be For This To End With A Congressional Hearing”

Warners Bros has screened their axed Coyote vs. Acme to around 12 buyers we hear with a rigid buy price of $70M+; which is how much the animated live-action hybrid movie cost.

Netflix and Paramount put forth bids, which we told you about, but they were lower than the $70M asking price (between $30M-$50M), therefore in Warner’s eyes, rivals didn’t want the feature for what it cost.

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What Deadline has received clarity on is that Warner Bros took a $70M writedown on Q3 earnings, not the upcoming Q4. Nonetheless, the movie, which the Burbank, CA lot decided back in early November not to release — remains in purgatory. That said, we hear the door isn’t officially closed on Coyote vs. Acme‘s prospects yet — it’s just that the Coyote could wind up in the cave with Batgirl.

“No one is doing anything at Warners to push this film for a sale,” says a source close to production. Are there no other saviors? A David Ellison who can snatch up the film and put it through Skydance’s Netflix output deal? No one? Warners, we hear, wasn’t trying to make one penny for profit; just get their money back for the cost of the film.

Phil Lord, whose Lego Movie made Warner Bros. over $471M in addition to spuring a feature franchise, took umbrage with the David Zaslav-run conglomerate on Twitter tonight exclaiming, “Is it anticompetitive if one of the biggest movie studios in the worlds shuns the marketplace in order to use a tax loophole to write off an entire movie so they can more easily merge with one of the bigger movie studios in the world? Cause it SEEMS anticompetitive.”

Lord is among those with Chris Miller, Michael Chaves, Daniel Scheinert and Deadline who’ve seen the movie.

Lord further added in reference to the climax of Coyote vs. Acme, “If you could see Coyote vs. Acme, you’d know how funny it would be for this to end with a congressional hearing.”

That statement was meant as a double entendre:

Days after Warners decided to ax Coyote vs. Acme back in November, Texas congressman Joaquin Castro took to X to slam the studio for even attempting a tax writeoff.

“The @WBD tactic of scrapping fully made films for tax breaks is predatory and anti-competitive,” wrote Castro, who has protested WBD before on antitrust issues.

“As the Justice Department and @FTC revise their antitrust guidelines they should review this conduct,” he continued.

“As someone remarked, it’s like burning down a building for the insurance money,” he added.

Those close to Zaslav have defended that the exec never thumbed down Coyote vs. Acme. However, his administration under CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels is famous for its layoffs and severe cost-cutting post AT&T ownership.

We’ve also heard that Warners tested marketing materials and actually had an intent to release.

More gossip: SXSW expressed interest in programming Coyote vs. Acme, but Warners wouldn’t screen it.

Leave it to the Romans in Austin, TX to decide if the Coyote lives.

Warner Bros didn’t respond for request for comment.

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