Road House Director Slams Amazon For Killing Film's Cinematic Release To 'Sell More Toasters'

In a blistering op-ed, Doug Liman claimed Amazon broke its promise of giving his Jake Gyllenhaal-starring film a theatrical release.
Doug Liman
Doug Liman
Theo Wargo via Getty Images

Bourne Identity director Doug Liman is firing shots at Amazon for “hurting” his new movie.

The frustrated filmmaker vowed not to attend his own premiere for Road House, a Jake Gyllenhaal-led remake of the original 1989 film, after claiming in a Deadline op-ed that Amazon broke its promise to release his movie in cinemas. Road House will premiere on 8 March at SXSW festival.

“When Amazon bought MGM, one of the remaining studios making big commercial films for the theatrical release (movies like Bond, Creed) they announced that they would put a billion dollars into theatrical motion pictures, releasing at least 12 a year,” Liman said.

“They touted it as ‘the largest commitment to cinemas by an internet company,’” he continued. “I can tell you what they then did to me and my film Road House, which is the opposite of what they promised when they took over MGM.”

Liman purportedly planned to “silently protest” his premiere until he realised “Amazon is hurting way more than just me” with their alleged decrease in theatrical output. He said they had even called his film, which marks UFC star Conor McGregor’s feature debut, a “smash hit”.

Liman wrote that this “tie-in to the UFC” has already “spawned over 1.5 billion social media impressions for the film, and marketing hasn’t even started yet,” adding that the “action is ground-breaking” and “Jake Gyllenhaal gives a career-defining performance in a role he was born to play”.

The upcoming "Road House" remake stars Gyllenhaal, who replaces Patrick Swayze from the 1989 original movie.
The upcoming "Road House" remake stars Gyllenhaal, who replaces Patrick Swayze from the 1989 original movie.
David Becker/Associated Press

The filmmaker also noted that his Road House remake scored higher in test screenings than his biggest hits, including Mr. And Mrs. Smith, but that Amazon MGM would rather release the movie on its Prime Video streaming platform than finance a theatrical release.

“The reality is there may not be a human villain in this story — it may simply be an Amazon computer algorithm,” he said.

“Amazon will sell more toasters if it has more subscribers; it will have more subscribers if it doesn’t have to compete with movie theatres. A computer could come up with that elegant solution as easily as it could solve global warming by killing all humans.”

The director then ended his op-ed with a dire warning, writing that “a computer doesn’t know what it is like to share the experience of laughing and cheering and crying with a packed audience in a dark theater – and if Amazon has its way, future audiences won’t know either”.


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