The filmmaker of Road House, Doug Liman, has decided not to let his film play in theatres at Amazon MGM, thus he is skipping its SXSW debut. Although he believes that Road House, his reinvention of the 1989 Patrick Swayze film, represents one of the finest works of his career to date, Liman produced an occasional section for Deadline outlining his reasons for not going to the film’s premiere. The main one is that Amazon chose to stream the movie instead of giving it a cinematic release.
“When Road House opens the SXSW film festival, I won’t be attending,” Liman stated. “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.” Initially, the director stated that he intended to “silently protest Amazon’s decision to stream a movie so clearly made for the big screen,” but since Amazon is “hurting way more than just me and my film,” he felt obligated to voice his concerns in an effort to emphasise the significance of theatrical release of motion pictures.
Liman agreed to lead MGM’s Road House in 2021 even before the endeavour received approval from Amazon after the latter company acquired MGM just a few weeks before. Amazon made public its intention to put $1 billion into motion pictures for theatres. Still, according to Liman, the studio went against what it had committed to do when it acquired MGM. He clarified that he fulfilled his end of the bargain by creating “a great film” that a few at Amazon have referred to as a “smash hit” and that scored higher on examines than some of his highest-grossing films, such as The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, in addition to receiving favourable reviews from the press and online.
“What else could I have delivered to the studio?” Liman poses questions. “Contrary to their public statements, Amazon has no interest in supporting cinemas. Amazon will exclusively stream Road House on Amazon’s 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.”
“That hurts the filmmakers and stars of Road House who don’t share in the upside of a hit movie on a streaming platform,” he added. “And they deprive Jake Gyllenhaal — who gives a career-best performance — the opportunity to be recognized come award season. But the impact goes far beyond this one movie. This could be industry-shaping for decades to come.” The theatrical film industry should take note from Liman’s experience, as he expressed his worries that “if we don’t put tentpole movies in movie theatres, there won’t be movie theatres in the future.” He emphasised how easily it may fall apart, which would then have repercussions for artists, film management, and studios.