The upcoming Road House remake is set to premiere at the upcoming SXSW film festival, but director Doug Liman won’t be attending. This isn’t down to any scheduling issue or because he’s busy with another project, but a purposeful choice to protest Amazon not giving Road House a theatrical release.
In a guest column for Deadline, Doug Liman explained why he won’t be attending the Road House premiere, despite considering it to be one of his best movies.
“When Road House opens the SXSW film festival, I won’t be attending. The movie is fantastic, maybe my best, and I’m sure it will bring the house down and possibly have the audience dancing in their seats during the end credits. But I will not be there,” Liman said. “My plan had been to silently protest Amazon’s decision to stream a movie so clearly made for the big screen. But Amazon is hurting way more than just me and my film. If I don’t speak up about Amazon, who will? So here we go.“
Liman added that he had signed on to make a theatrical motion picture for MGM, but when Amazon bought MGM, the streaming giant told Liman, “make a great film and we will see what happens” in regard to its release. Road House has reportedly tested higher than any movie in Liman’s career, more than Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity, and Liman feels that it could be a smash hit in theaters if Amazon would allow it. “Contrary to their public statements, Amazon has no interest in supporting cinemas,” Liman said. “Amazon will exclusively stream Road House on Amazon Prime. Amazon asked me and the film community to trust them and their public statements about supporting cinemas, and then they turned around and are using Road House to sell plumbing fixtures.“
Not only does this voice deprive Jake Gyllenhaal, who Liman says gives a “career-best performance,” the opportunity to be recognized come award season, but it could negatively shape the industry for decades to come. “If we don’t put tentpole movies in movie theaters, there won’t be movie theaters in the future,” Liman said. “Movies like Road House, people actually want to see on the big screen, and it was made for the big screen. Without movie theaters, we won’t have the commercial box office hits that are the locomotives that allow studios to take gambles on original movies and new directors. Without movie theaters we won’t have movie stars.” Liman tried to convince Amazon to give Road House a theatrical release, even asking them to allow him to sell the project to another studio that would, but they said no. You can read the entirety of Liman’s letter on Deadline.
Road House will debut on Prime Video on March 21st in more than 240 territories worldwide.