In a surprise about-turn reported by Puck, Warner Bros. Discovery might be offering its new animated movie to other studios before calling in the tax folk.
Last week, the internet (and, specifically, we at Film Stories) got very cross when Warner Bros. Discovery announced the cancellation of the finished live-action/animated movie Coyote Vs Acme for tax reasons.
The move, despite Warner Bros. having form with this sort of thing, came as a bit of a shock, not least to the people who made it. Industry insiders suggested the film was getting strong audience scores at test screenings, it featured a recognisable property in the Looney Tunes star and, crucially, the studio had already finished making it.
After a weekend of bad press and leaked behind-the-scenes footage of the film, though, it sounds like Warner Bros. might be making an about turn. Former Hollywood Reporter editor Matthew Belloni, writing for Puck News, has suggested execs are now allowing the filmmakers to shop Coyote Vs Acme around to other distributors before they bury it in the Warner Bros. vault.
To make it perfectly clear, we’re still very cross – but at least now we might still get a new Looney Tunes movie. We’re also, frankly, baffled at the way things have turned out.
While the backlash within the industry and without at Warners’ decision was significant, there’s a sense now that the reputational damage has already been done. That the company would even consider scrapping a finished $70m film for a $30m tax refund is hardly likely to give creatives the confidence their latest project will be valued at the studio.
Of course, it’s entirely possible Warner Bros. will charge a premium for the distribution rights to dissuade rivals from buying, thus avoiding the humiliation of another studio profiting from one of its most iconic franchises. That way, if no one bites, it can avoid negative PR by saying “we tried” before pulling the plug anyway.
Still, maybe we’re just being cynical. At the very least, that public outcry has forced this about-turn (if confirmed) might make studios think twice about pulling this kind of move in the future.
For now, though, we’re just pleased we get to see Wile E Coyote in a courtroom drama. Have a look at Steven Price’s ‘Meep Meep’ choir he made for the film, again – you’ve earned it. Happy Monday, everybody!