#478 February 20, 2024

Matt writes: Our Editor at Large Matt Zoller Seitz recently posted a very well-received essay entitled, “Why Deleting and Destroying Finished Movies Like ‘Coyote vs Acme’ Should Be a Crime.” You can read the article in its entirety here, and view the first few paragraphs below…

There’s an old joke about a guy who murders his parents, then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan. 

A variant of this thinking is becoming an accepted strategy at major entertainment corporations like Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), which adopted a scorched earth brand of accounting after its 2022 merger that sought to reduce debt by using drastic measures. One of WBD’s most notorious post-merger decisions was deleting an entire finished feature, “Batgirl,” that had an estimated budget of $90 million, to claim a tax write-off, deeming it bad-to-the-point of un-releasability (how they could prove this when no one outside the production had seen it remains a mystery worthy of Benoit Blanc). 

The company seems determined to do it again with another one of their productions, the live-action/animation hybrid “Coyote vs. Acme,” a comedy based on a New Yorker humor piece about Wile E. Coyote suing the Acme corporation that reportedly cost $70 million, co-starring John Cena and Will Forte, directed by Dave Green. The film was already done and had performed exceptionally with test audiences (in the high 90s, according to a Rolling Stone article) when it was earmarked for deletion last November so that the company could claim a tax write-off, as they had done with “Batgirl”. 


We Grown Now (2024). Written and directed by Minhal Baig. Starring Jurnee Smollett, S. Epatha Merkerson, Lil Rel Howery. Synopsis: Two young boys, best friends Malik and Eric, discover the joys and hardships of growing up in the sprawling Cabrini-Green public housing complex in 1992 Chicago. Debuts in the US on April 26th, 2024.

Late Night with the Devil (2024). Written and directed by Cameron Cairnes and Colin Cairnes. Starring David Dastmalchian, Laura Gordon, Ian Bliss. Synopsis: A live television broadcast in 1977 goes horribly wrong, unleashing evil into the nation’s living rooms. US release date is TBA.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Opus (2024). Directed by . Synopsis: Ryuichi Sakamoto’s last performance, a concert film featuring just him and his piano playing for the last time before passing away. Debuts in the US on May 10th, 2024.

Femme (2024). Written and directed by Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping. Starring George MacKay, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Aaron Heffernan. Synopsis: Follows Jules, who is targeted in a horrific homophobic attack, destroying his life and career. Some time after that event he encounters Preston, one of his attackers, in a gay sauna. He wants revenge. Debuts in the US on March 22nd, 2024.

The Beast (2024). Directed by Bertrand Bonello. Written by Bertrand Bonello, Guillaume Bréaud and Benjamin Charbit (based on the short story by Henry James). Starring Léa Seydoux, George MacKay, Guslagie Malanda. Synopsis: The plot is set partly in a near future in which artificial intelligence is in control of everyone’s lives and human emotions are perceived as a threat. US release date is TBA.

Cuckoo (2024). Written and directed by Tilman Singer. Starring Hunter Schafer, Jessica Henwick, Dan Stevens. Synopsis: A 17-year old girl is forced to move with her family to a resort where things are not what they seem. Debuts in the US on May 3rd, 2024.

Imaginary (2024). Directed by Jeff Wadlow. Written by Jeff Wadlow, Greg Erb, Bryce McGuire and Jason Oremland. Starring Tom Payne, DeWanda Wise, Betty Buckley. Synopsis: A woman returns to her childhood home to discover that the imaginary friend she left behind is very real and unhappy that she abandoned him. Debuts in the US on March 8th, 2024.

Sting (2024). Written and directed by Kiah Roache-Turner. Starring Alyla Browne, Penelope Mitchell, Ryan Corr. Synopsis: Inspired by one of humanity’s greatest fears, arachnophobia, made more monstrous than ever before. Debuts in the US on May 2nd, 2024.

Riddle of Fire (2024). Written and directed by . Starring Lio Tipton, Charles Halford, Lorelei Olivia Mote. Synopsis: Three mischievous children embark on a woodland odyssey when their mother sends them on an errand. Debuts in the US on April 17th, 2024.

The Greatest Love Story Never Told (2024). Directed by Ben Affleck. Synopsis: A behind the scenes look at Jennifer Lopez’s new album and accompanying film. Debuts on Prime Video on February 27th, 2024.

Wicked Little Letters (2024). Directed by Thea Sharrock. Written by Jonny Sweet. Starring Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Anjana Vasan. Synopsis: When people in Littlehampton–including conservative local Edith–begin to receive letters full of hilarious profanities, rowdy Irish migrant Rose is charged with the crime. Suspecting that something is amiss, the town’s women investigate. Debuts in the US on February 23rd, 2024.

The Sympathizer (2024). Created by Park Chan-wook and Don McKellar. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Scott Ly, Hoa Xuande. Synopsis: Near the end of the Vietnam War, a plant who was embedded in the South Vietnam army flees to the United States and takes up residence in a refugee community, where he continues to secretly spy and report back to the Viet Cong. Debuts on Max on April 14th, 2024.

Drive-Away Dolls (2024). Directed by Ethan Coen. Written by Ethan Coen and Tricia Cooke. Starring Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Beanie Feldstein. Synopsis: Jamie regrets her breakup with her girlfriend, while Marian needs to relax. In search of a fresh start, they embark on an unexpected road trip to Tallahassee. Things quickly go awry when they cross paths with a group of inept criminals. Debuts in the US on February 23rd, 2024.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024). Directed by Wes Ball. Written by Patrick Aison, Josh Friedman, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (based on characters created by Pierre Boulle). Starring Freya Allan, Kevin Durand, William H. Macy. Synopsis: Many years after the reign of Caesar, a young ape goes on a journey that will lead him to question everything he’s been taught about the past and make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. Debuts in the US on May 10th, 2024.

A Quiet Place: Day One (2024). Written and directed by Michael Sarnoski (based on characters created by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck). Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Alex Wolff, Djimon Hounsou. Synopsis: Experience the day the world went quiet. Debuts in the US on June 28th, 2024.

Deadpool & Wolverine (2024). Directed by Shawn Levy. Written by Shawn Levy, Rhett Reese, Ryan ReynoldsZeb Wells and Paul Wernick (based on characters created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza). Starring Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman, Morena Baccarin. Synopsis: The irresponsible hero Deadpool will change the history of the MCU with Wolverine!? Debuts in the US on July 26th, 2024.

Twisters (2024). Directed by Lee Isaac Chung. Written by Mark L. Smith (based on the screenplay by Michael Crichton). Starring Glen Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Kiernan Shipka. Synopsis: An update to the 1996 film ‘Twister’, which centered on a pair of storm chasers who risk their lives in an attempt to test an experimental weather alert system. Debuts in the US on July 19th, 2024.

Wicked: Part One (2024). Directed by Jon M. Chu. Written by Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz (based on the novel by Gregory Maguire and the characters created by L. Frank Baum). Starring Cynthia Erivo, Ariana Grande, Jeff Goldblum. Synopsis: After two decades as one of the most beloved and enduring musicals on the stage, Wicked makes its long-awaited journey to the big screen as a spectacular, generation-defining cinematic event this holiday season. Debuts in the US on November 27th, 2024.

Bill Bradley on “Rolling Along”

Matt writes: Senator and basketball icon Bill Bradley recently spoke with Nell Minow about the excellent new film, now streaming on Max, in which he shares insights from his extraordinary life, “Rolling Along: An American Story.” You can read their complete conversation here.

2024 Oscar-Nominated Shorts

Matt writes: In this special edition of Collin Souter’s monthly column, Short Films in Focus, our longtime contributor reviews the latest slate of shorts nominated for Academy Awards at next month’s Oscar telecast including John Hoffman and Christine Turner’s “The Barber of Little Rock,” which can be viewed in full at the link embedded above. Read Collin’s thoughts here.

Free Movies

Something to Sing About (1937). Directed by Victor Schertzinger. Written by Austin Parker. Starring James CagneyEvelyn Daw, William Frawley. Synopsis: A New York bandleader journeys to Hollywood when he is offered a contract with a studio, but he is determined to do things his way and not theirs. 

Watch “Something to Sing About”

Penny Serenade (1941). Directed by George Stevens. Written by Morrie Ryskind. Starring Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Beulah Bondi. Synopsis: A couple’s big dreams give way to a life full of unexpected sadness and unexpected joy.

Watch “Penny Serenade”

Hi De Ho (1947). Directed by Josh Binney. Written by Hal Seeger. Starring Cab Calloway, Ida James, Jeni Le Gon. Synopsis: Cab Calloway plays himself in a plot about jealousy, night clubs, and gangsters. Ends with a series of musical numbers.

Watch “Hi De Ho”


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