Art cannot be “deleted,” Warner Bros.

Voice actor Eric Bauza, known for being the current voice for “Looney Tunes” characters Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and countless others, received praise last February for an in-character demand that Warner Brothers Studios, “Release ‘Coyote vs. Acme!’”. The film in question, “Coyote vs. Acme,” is being permanently shelved by the studio for a tax-write off. This is nothing new, as ever since David Zaslav became CEO of Warner Brothers-Discovery in 2022, both released and unreleased films have been permanently deleted. It is my belief that not only does this write-off system set a dangerous precedent for art in Hollywood, but might just be more illegal than many are willing to admit.

CEO David Zaslav has become somewhat of a monster in the entertainment world after the 2022 merger between WB and Discovery. He bizarrely stripped HBO Max of the name’s most recognizable element, he received boos during a speech at his own alma mater and he’s been overall panned by most everyone who isn’t on his payroll. A massive reason for that is because he plays a large role in the movies and television shows that get permanently shelved. When it was announced that the “Batgirl” movie was being deleted, Zaslav elegantly eased the public’s nerves at the 2023 DealBook Summit by claiming that deleting the movie was “a strategic decision” and took “courage.”

It’s fun to joke about David Zaslav’s strange anti-art sentiments, but situations like the deletion of “Coyote vs. Acme,” remind the public of the very-real consequences. Many, many creatives involved and not involved with the movie’s production have gone on record to attest that the film was truly something special, a product of hundreds of impassioned people trying to make the best movie possible. One of the stars of the film, Will Forte, posted his experience of watching the film for the first time, saying, “As the credits rolled, I just sat there thinking how lucky I was to be a part of something so special…This was the movie they’re not going to release?”

Eyebrows have been raised regarding the legality of what WB is doing to their finished films. Following the scheme, fully-completed movies get scrapped without a trace to lower their income number on a tax sheet. I’m no economist, but I’m pretty sure destroying your own property in order to pay less in taxes is… tax fraud, no?

Legal or not, David Zaslav and Warner Brothers have become the face of a dangerous, growing movement to devalue art. While not affecting everyone equally, it is important to remember that this cannot continue. Everyone should be worried about this, since whether you know it or not, your first studio project is susceptible to becoming the next “Coyote vs. Acme.”