Let’s get one thing out of the way first. The Road House remake looks badass. I was among those who were wary of director Doug Liman remaking the Patrick Swayze action classic, especially when I heard Jake Gyllenhaal would be leading the cast. Gyllenhaal is a great actor, but would he be good as Dalton the bouncer? And what about the hair??? Could he ever compare to the late Crazy Swayze? But, over the last few months, the buzz has been building that this Road House remake is terrific. It’s apparently one of the highest-testing movies in Amazon-MGM history, and the trailer rocked the internet when it came out about a month ago. Against all odds, it looks like Liman and Gyllenhaal have made a slam-bang action flick that updates and pays homage to the original film without being derivative. So why isn’t it going to theaters?
Indeed, Road House is set for a worldwide streaming debut March 21st on Prime Video. Doug Liman is so dismayed at the lack of a theatrical release that, in a bombshell letter to Deadline, he stated that he would be boycotting the film’s SXSW premiere. In his letter, he wrote that Amazon told him the movie was a “smash hit” and revealed that it tested higher than his two most successful films as a director, Mr. and Mrs Smith and The Bourne Identity. So, one can understand why Liman would be miffed at the streamer not giving the film theatrical play.
That said, in recent weeks, it was revealed that the studio had always intended to give Road House an exclusive streaming release. The story goes that Liman and the producers had a choice: make the movie for $65 million and get theaters. Make it for $85 million – have it go to streaming. They understandably went for a bigger budget and took streaming. But really, who could blame them? $20 million is a major difference and probably gave the film a lot more production value, so if that’s the deal they made – fine.
It should be noted that Amazon-MGM has been very supportive of movie theaters in the past. Their film, Air, was a big box office success, while the theatrical run of Saltburn helped pave the way for the movie to become a viral sensation. Their awesome Jason Statham action flick The Beekeeper is doing well right now. To play devil’s advocate, not every movie they’ve given a theatrical release has performed well. Their last movie with Jake Gyllenhaal, Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant, was only a modest performer but was a far less commercial film than Road House. This movie has the makings of another cult classic, and there’s nothing more fun than watching a kick-ass action flick on the big screen with a crowd.
Then again, it’s worth noting that 1989’s Road House was not a box office success and only found success on home video and cable. Perhaps Prime Video is hoping the film will be another viral sensation, and it’s not the only movie they’re premiering on streaming, with the star-packed Ricky Stanicky bowing on the service just a few weeks earlier.
In the end, if Amazon financed Road House, they can release it however they see fit, but as an action fan, I wish this was getting a theatrical release. Mid-budget action movies are a dying breed, so it’s essential for fans, such as myself, to be able to go out and support the genre. I also think the next generation of action stars should be promoted, as they truly are a dying breed. Road House could be the movie that makes Gyllenhaal the next big action hero (it also looks like a nice launching pad for the younger Lukas Gage – who could become one of the first openly gay action stars). I want nothing more than to gather up a few friends and see this on a Friday night on the big screen. Granted, it’ll still be great on streaming, but I think the world deserves to see Road House in theaters, especially given how barren the theatrical release calendar is due to the various strikes that happened this summer.
Do you think Road House should be opening in theaters? Let us know in the comments.