But why? There’s nothing wrong with a studio changing direction, but if Coyote vs Acme was finished, why not release it, anyway? The answer, apparently, is that distributing and promoting a film adds so much to the overall cost that it is hard for it to make a profit. It can be cheaper for a studio to dismiss the film as a “tax write-down”, and claw back millions of dollars. But the strategy is only legal if the film is never shown. Effectively, it has to cease to exist. Green has said that he is “beyond devastated”. Still, there is some hope that Wile E Coyote will return to life, as he so often does. On Monday, it was reported that Warner would permit Green and his colleagues to shop the film around to other potential distributors. But other film-makers who have suffered a similar fate haven’t been so lucky.
In April 2022, WarnerMedia merged with Discovery Inc to become Warner Bros Discovery, and since then the conglomerate’s new CEO, David Zaslav, has been responsible for a swathe of controversial cost-cutting measures. The most astonishing of these came in August 2022, when the studio scrapped a $90m DC superhero blockbuster, Batgirl, that had already been shot. Leslie Grace starred as Gotham City’s newest crime fighter, alongside Brendan Fraser as the villainous Firefly and Michael Keaton as Batman. But, despite that tantalising cast, the studio’s top brass judged that the film was bound to flop, so they cut their losses. “We are saddened and shocked by the news,” the directors, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, said on Instagram. “We still can’t believe it.”