“Road House” director Doug Liman isn't happy about the studio refusing to release his film in theaters… and he's making that point very, very clear.
Call us eternally optimistic, but we're hopeful that the upcoming Road House remake will be a fun time.
Jake Gyllenhaal takes on the role of the late, great Patrick Swayze and while he will undoubtedly bring a different energy to the role, there is no doubt that Gyllenhaal has what it takes. The curiosity factor also works in its favor: UFC icon and headline magnet Conor McGregor's acting debut is another draw, as is director Doug Liman's involvement, as you never really know what you're going to get when you sit down go and watch one of his films.
Only this time, Amazon really knows what it's getting, at least according to Liman.
The director has published a guest column on Deadline in which he claims that test results for Road House are “through the roof” and that the press reaction to the film is “the best since.” [Amazon] bought MGM.'
Given these claims, Liman is upset that the studio is refusing to release the film in theaters, especially (presumably) because it has clearly adopted such a strategy with several of its other releases over the last year.
Here is Liman's opinion:
“We made Road House a huge hit – Amazon's words are not mine, by the way.” Road House tested better than my biggest box office hit, Mr And Mrs Smith. It tested better than Bourne Identity, which spawned four sequels. I'm told the press response at Amazon was the best since the MGM purchase.
“Road House has a strong connection to the UFC, which has an enthusiastic and loyal fan base that has generated over 1.5 billion social media impressions for the film, and marketing has not even begun yet.”
Liman continues to attack Amazon over its decision, openly accusing the studio of misleading him and all of us with its supposed support of the theater business:
“What else could I have delivered to the studio? Nothing, as it turns out. Because contrary to their public statements, Amazon has no interest in supporting cinemas. Amazon will stream Road House exclusively on Amazon Prime. Amazon asked me and the film community to trust them and their public statements supporting movie theaters, and then they turned around and used Road House to sell plumbing fixtures.”
Liman continues to express his sympathy for the people at Amazon, who approved the decision not to release the film in theaters, instead blaming it on the tech company's over-reliance on technology.
The excerpts shown above are part of a much longer diatribe that is worth reading. Clearly not a happy man, Liman has announced that he will be boycotting the film's SXSW premiere ahead of its general release in March.
We're not entirely sure how this came about, but we do know that the Road House remake was announced in 2022, the same year Amazon bought MGM. Perhaps the proximity of these two events meant that the film's release strategy was not clearly defined, although our initial coverage of the film's public announcement makes it clear that it was intended for Prime Video.
Of course, Amazon has significantly changed its release strategy in the years since, and since he has the data to back up his claims, Liman has every right to demand a theatrical release when other filmmakers have been extended the same favor.
However, it doesn't look like his wish will come true, and coupled with the news of Netflix canceling The Mothership, the finished Halle Berry film, this is a pretty bad week for the streamer's image in the industry. Two high-profile exchanges like this might make other filmmakers think twice before shaking hands with a streaming platform.
Road House is out March 21st, not in theaters – despite Doug Liman's best efforts.