Turns Out Warner Bros. Wasn’t Done Writing Off Completed Films

If you thought “Batgirl” was the end of it, think again. Warner Bros. has shelved and will take a tax write-off on another completed film, this time a Looney Tunes live-action and animated movie called “Coyote vs. Acme” starring John Cena, IndieWire has confirmed. THR first reported the news.

Principal photography on “Coyote vs. Acme” was completed in New Mexico last year, and the film originally intended for streaming has a budget in the $70 million range. But Warner Bros. is deciding to not move forward with the movie and has already realized the tax savings in its Q3 earnings, which were reported yesterday.

More from IndieWire

Warner Bros. had no comment on the exact method by which the film is being shelved and written off or how much the studio stands to recoup, but Deadline is reporting that it is taking an estimated $30 million write-down, which the studio believes is more than the cost of theatrically releasing and marketing the film would be worth.

Dave Green directed “Coyote vs. Acme,” which was based on a 1990 short story in the New Yorker about the life inside the Acme warehouse that supplies all the mechanisms Wile E. Coyote uses to trap the Roadrunner. James Gunn, the co-head of DC Studios, was even a producer and is credited on the screen story for the film.

It’s a bad look considering “Batgirl” and the outcry it started from the creative community. That movie didn’t test well and was deemed “not releasable” by the powers that be. This time though, a source says the filmmakers were at least informed of the decision to shelve the movie in advance of it hitting the press.

“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,” a Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group spokesperson told IndieWire in a statement. “This was a tough decision, and we recognize and deeply appreciate the effort and time that goes into making a movie.”

“Coyote vs. Acme” is the third such completed film project greenlit under the former regime at the studio and intended for streaming. The company under David Zaslav had a change of heart about expensive projects made specifically for streaming. And while some of those movies like the “House Party” reboot ended up going to theaters, “Batgirl,” “Scoob Holiday Haunt,” and now “Coyote vs. Acme” will forever sit on the shelf. WBD this time last year said it intended to write off an additional $2 billion in content as Zaslav continues to try and get out from under debt.

As the statement says, the studio now wants theatrical releases, not streaming movies, and that applies to Warner Bros. Pictures Animation. The new film didn’t fit within that creative direction.

It’s also a shame considering the many holes on the 2024 theatrical slate in the wake of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, the latter of which was finally called off just after midnight this morning. Who knows how this would’ve performed, but even “Space Jam: A New Legacy” brought in $163 million worldwide.

The studio does have another project in development with director Dave Green at New Line. Warner’s animation arm is now developing movies for a theatrical crowd and is targeting two film releases for 2026. Currently in development are features based on “Cat in the Hat” and “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!,” as well as a partnership with Locksmith Animation on “Bad Fairies” and “The Lunar Chronicles.”

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.