Texas congressman Joaquin Castro slammed Warner Bros. Discovery in a tweet for the studio’s decision to ax the $70M “Coyote Vs. Acme” for a tax writeoff reported at $30M. In his tweet, Castro, who has previously protested the studio on antitrust issues, wrote, “The @WBD tactic of scrapping fully made films for tax breaks is predatory and anti-competitive. As the Justice Department and @FTC revise their antitrust guidelines, they should review this conduct.” Warner Bros. did not comment on these tweets.
The @WBD tactic of scrapping fully made films for tax breaks is predatory and anti-competitive.
As the Justice Department and @FTC revise their antitrust guidelines they should review this conduct.
As someone remarked, it’s like burning down a building for the insurance money. https://t.co/Vb8vj3brD7
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) November 14, 2023
In April, Castro, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) called on the Justice Department to investigate Warner Bros. Discovery after the cancellation of Batgirl. In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and DOJ antitrust chief Jonathan Kanter, the congresspeople wrote that the merged company had “adopt[ed] potentially anti-competitive practices that reduce consumer choice and harm workers in affected labor markets.”
However, as Deadline reported, the studio will be screening the film for any potential buyers instead (with Amazon Prime being a leading contender currently). This shift was made after the creative community made call after call to the studio. There was also an outcry from the film’s composer, Steven Price.
Several sources have told Deadline that CEO David Zaslav is not to blame for the axing of “Coyote Vs. Acme.” Instead, Warner Bros. Motion Picture Bosses Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy and the studio’s new animation head, Bill Damschke, approved this decision despite it being an issue for accounting and finance to handle. At $70M, the new WBD administration decided that this cost was too high for a movie to skip theatrical release and head straight to streaming service Max.
One source told Deadline, “The studio executives, though not in their nature to cancel a movie, are getting a free pass from the top down to avoid any risk, and that’s being taken advantage of as unhealthy as it is.”