Arts and Culture Column Film

Why Are Studios Deleting Finished Movies?

Let’s talk about the atrocious phenomenon in Hollywood where a studio will fund a movie, write, direct, and edit it, and then delete the entire thing, erasing all of the work put into the project and spitting in the faces of those who contributed. 

I hate this.

Why do they do this? Well, it’s movie studios we’re talking about, so money is always the answer. After recent films like Batgirl, Coyote vs Acme, and the Scooby Doo movie Scoob! Holiday Haunt, were “shelved” indefinitely, it became incredibly apparent that the people funding the art we know and love care very little for the actual art itself, and much more for the amount of money it will put into their pocket. 

So how is it economically feasible to destroy hours of work rather than simply releasing it? Basically, taxes. If a movie studio has no faith in a movie turning a profit, it can write it off as a complete loss and get a huge tax deduction in return. Why does this apply to movie studios and not my college tuition? I don’t know. So with the losses recouped from the tax break, along with the money that would have been spent releasing and marketing the film, somehow we live in a world where it is cheaper to delete a finished film instead of releasing it. At least, that is what happened with Batgirl.

Now one might wonder: why delete these finished productions? Why not just release them for free? Well, there is no real option for releasing the film for free, as any positive press or potential streaming revenue would count as profit and negate the tax cuts. So the movie is simply deleted.

Somehow, this is not an entirely new concept. Back in 1933, Charlie Chaplin famously destroyed film negatives of A Woman of the Sea to claim a tax writeoff, and as such the film is lost to history. In doing so, any potential cultural impact, artistic influence, or meaning whatsoever is stripped and replaced with an empty void, along with money for the executives. But no disrespect to Charlie Chaplin, he was great in that one with the assembly line. Artsy film, I think it was an A24.

In other news, I looked it up and college tuition is tax deductible. I guess the government is fair. 

Studios must be held to a higher standard, or practices like this will only grow more common. Already studios are removing released content from streaming services to claim tax breaks, and with the prevalence of digital media we are rapidly approaching a world where nothing is truly owned and everything can be taken away by the greedy, lazy suits who run these companies. All art will be AI-generated, and any real art will be immediately deleted to get a tax cut. At least we get Dune before all that happens.