A couple weeks ago it was reported Warner Bros. is developing a feature film tentatively titled Wile E. Coyote vs. ACME. If accurate, it would mark the third attempt by WB to bring its stable of Looney Tunes characters to the big screen, though the first one to focus on a single character as opposed to trying to cram the whole group into a single movie.
The idea has me more excited than, say, the constant rumors of Space Jam 2 being considered or some such. There seems to be a lot more potential in, for lack of a better phrase, these stand-alone stories than in ensemble stories. You can call me old-fashioned, but that’s largely because that’s how the original cartoon shorts were structured. While there were plenty of cartoons featuring two or more “main” characters, most had them on their own or up against their primary rival, eg Bugs vs. Elmer Fudd, Sylvester vs. Tweety Bird and Wile E. Coyote vs. Road Runner.
While this approach sounds like a better idea purely on a story level, in this particular instance the thing that sticks out most for me is the potential for some really fun consumer and promotional products and stunts.
Allow me to offer a few thoughts.
#1: ACME Press Kits and Subscription Boxes
If you know anything about Wile E. Coyote and his quest to catch Road Runner, you know he frequently relies on ACME products to help him out. The cartoons are filled with him opening a box from the ACME corporation to find a flight suit, massive slingshot or some other tool that he’s *sure* will lead to his success and not, say, result in him being slammed into the wall of a mountain.
WB should embrace the ACME brand like it’s their favorite blanket on a cold rainy day. Not only is there almost unlimited potential for consumer products (albeit ones that are less likely to result in self-harm than what are featured in the cartoons), but there’s lots of room for promotional stunts as well.
Studios love sending movie critics and writers boxes of swag, so bundle everything in an ACME-branded package. Or take it a step further and work with a subscription box service like Lootcrate to put the ACME name on everyone’s delivery one month. There’s loads of potential here, just on the naming and branding front.
#2: Go Stunt-Heavy
Watching a Coyote/Road Runner short was somewhat akin to watching a NASCAR race except instead of watching to see who crashes and how big the pileup is we’re watching to see how the Coyote will fail spectacularly this time and what sort of stunts he’ll engage in.
Have fun with this. Throw a big unveiling event that has someone gliding down to the stage while wearing a green bat outfit and cape. Get a stuntman to launch himself from a giant spring. In short, embrace the slightly dangerous and irresponsible aspect of the character.
#3: Make Everyone a Super Genius
I may be admitting too much about myself here, but some of my favorite Wile E. Coyote cartoons are the ones where he’s trying to get not Road Runner but Bugs Bunny. In those shorts he introduced himself to Bugs – because what’s the point of beating someone if you don’t also establish your superiority – as “Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius,” complete with business card stating as such.
Send everyone on your press list personalized business cards labeling them a super genius. Better yet, create a template on the web where people can fill in their name and print their own. I’m dead serious when I say I carry this business card with me everywhere and use it to introduce myself.
#4: Don’t Forget Sam
It doesn’t have to be a big part of the story, but please please please have Wile E. Coyote just randomly pass Sam the Sheepdog at some point and just casually have the “Hello Ralph. Hello Sam” encounter. It’s the best thing ever and the movie won’t be complete without it.