Doug Liman says Amazon is “giving audiences the shaft” by not releasing Road House in theaters in a new BTS video

Road House director Doug Liman gives his uncensored side of Amazon releasing the film on its streaming service instead of in cinemas.

Road House, Doug Liman, BTS, Casey Neistat

Road House is currently streaming on Prime Video, but the film’s director, Doug Liman, wishes audiences were watching it in theaters. According to the acclaimed filmmaker, Amazon is “giving audiences the shaft” by not hosting the film on the silver screen, and he feels as if he’s lost a public battle for the project’s worth. In a video posted by Casey Neistat, the notable YouTube sensation gets Liman’s uncensored version of the story and chronicles the director’s trip to the Road House premiere, which, adding insult to injury, takes place in a packed theater.

When Neistat and Liman meet in the room where the sound for Road House was mixed, it becomes apparent that Liman designed the film for theaters. Different studio spaces represent different mixing environments. If a movie will stream in living rooms, sound engineers mix the audio in a smaller space to replicate living room environments. Liman’s sound team mixed the audio for Road House in a theater-style space, lending weight to his argument that he designed the feature for cinemas.

“I was in a shop in Aspen, and Jeff Bezos, who I don’t know, came riding in on a horse into the store with a cowboy hat,” Doug Liman, who also wears a cowboy hat in the video, tells Niastat. “I’m kind of at war with Amazon. It wasn’t lost on me the scale difference of Jeff Bezos on his huge friggin’ horse in the middle of this store with his cowboy hat.”

Liman discusses the difference between independent filmmaking and answering to higher powers for big-budget projects as their chin-wag continues. Liman says Hollywood plays by a different rule book than indie filmmakers shooting a project without limits. “In Swingers, we couldn’t afford the people that told you what you couldn’t do. So, we just did everything,” Liman says about his early days of filming. He also points out that The Bourne Identity includes “shaky cam” footage because he lacked the permits to shoot in specific spaces. He was stealing shots, and audiences assumed the janky camera movements were a creative choice.

After biking through New York City streets, past Amazon’s gigantic Road House billboards, Liman and Neistat arrive at a sound studio. Speaking about the film, Liman says he used IMAX cameras to capture some of the action, with big stars like Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor McGregor chewing the scenery. “It’s a party,” Liman says about the vibes of Road House. “Some movies you watch alone, whatever. Then some movies are a party. Road House is a party! It’s like great music and great bar fights. There’s obviously more to it, but at the heart of it, it’s a party.”

Liman then notes a Bloomberg article saying Amazon plans to invest $1 billion a year in movies for theaters. “It turns out Amazon had no intention of putting it [Road House] out in theaters. They wanted to put it on their streaming service and sell toilet paper and toothbrushes.” 

“I’m not the only filmmaker Amazon is doing this to,” Liman continues. “There’s a string of filmmakers who are promised a theatrical release and then their films are dumped onto streaming. They’re giving me the shaft. They’re giving the public the shaft.”

After boycotting the event, Doug Liman attends Amazon’s Road House premiere in Texas. Niastat, confused about the decision, asks why Liman decided to show up. “It’s tough to do, but sometimes you just have to acknowledge that you lost. You took on Amazon, you fought for your movie. I literally did everything in my power to get this movie into theaters, and I lost,” Liman shrugs. “If this is literally going to be the only screening where people can buy tickets, and go see the movie, I want to be there.”

Per the official logline: “In this adrenaline-fueled reimagining of the ’80s cult classic, ex-UFC fighter Dalton (Gyllenhaal) takes a job as a bouncer at a Florida Keys roadhouse, only to discover that this paradise is not all it seems.” In addition to Gyllenhaal, Road House stars Daniela Melchior, Billy Magnussen, Jessica Williams, Joaquim De Almeida, and Conor McGregor. The film aims to pay homage to the original while providing its own unique and exhilarating spin to introduce Dalton, the roadhouse, and all its chaos to a new generation.

What do you think about Doug Liman’s comments? Are you upset about not seeing Road House in theaters? Let us know in the comments section below.

Road House is currently streaming on Prime Video.

Source: Casey Neistat

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.