Snippet: Why Deleting and Destroying Finished Movies Like Coyote vs. Acme Should Be a Crime ☇

Shared on February 12, 2024

Matt Zoller Seitz for RogerEbert.com:

It’s not just the completed film that gets deleted in cases like this, but everything associated with the film, which means that nobody who did any sort of work on a project that consumed years of their lives will ever be able to point to it as evidence of what sort of work they’re capable of doing, and get more work. At least when a real estate company demolishes a completed building before anyone’s had a chance to move into it, there are photos of what it looked like. “With this write-off, everything gets deleted, not just what you see on screen, but everything that it took to make the film,” the film’s editor Carsten Kaparnek told Rolling Stone at the time. “A released movie is just the tip of a giant iceberg of love and labor. The talent and commitment of the people who bring a project to life should not go unnoticed … All of it is now lost but will never be forgotten by those lucky enough to have been there.”

I’d say we’re in a reckoning period for streaming services and studios. The growth and prestige era of just a few years ago is long gone and now they’re trying to wring every dollar out of services that still lose a lot of money. Because of that, the whole media landscape has turned into a panic—throw in the strikes last year, disappointing box office performance as a whole, and studio executives filled with hubris and rather than focusing on the art form, they’re chasing sure bets and not willing to take a chance elsewhere.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has been the worst about this, diluting the high-quality HBO content with cheap reality nonsense on the Max app, and starting a pattern of writing off movies that never see the light of day. If anything, this may signal for anyone involved in the film- and TV-making process to avoid this company at all costs.

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