Doug Liman says he’s boycotting the South by Southwest premiere of his new movie, the Jake Gyllenhaal-starring Road House, following Amazon MGM Studios’ decision to skip a theatrical release and send it right to Prime Video.
“When Road House opens the SXSW film festival, I won’t be attending,” the director wrote in a new guest column for Deadline. “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. My plan had been to silently protest Amazon’s decision to stream a movie so clearly made for the big screen. But Amazon is hurting way more than just me and my film.”
Liman explained that he had signed on to make a theatrical motion picture for MGM, but after Amazon bought the studio, the fate of Road House‘s premiere was less clear. Now, it’s been confirmed that the film will stream exclusively on Prime Video.
“If we don’t put tentpole movies in movie theaters, there won’t be movie theaters in the future,” Liman went on. “Movies like Road House, people actually want to see on the big screen, and it was made for the big screen. Without movie theaters, we won’t have the commercial box office hits that are the locomotives that allow studios to take gambles on original movies and new directors. Without movie theaters we won’t have movie stars.”
Liman also noted that the film going straight to streaming could affect its recognition during awards season, emphasizing that Gyllenhaal gave a “career-best performance” that might be overlooked. Liman also clarified that he’s not as concerned about streaming itself as he is about the fate of movie theaters: “Data shows that movies do better on streaming if they have been released theatrically first,” he wrote.
“The reality is there may not be a human villain in this story – it may simply be an Amazon computer algorithm,” Liman concluded. “Amazon will sell more toasters if it has more subscribers; it will have more subscribers if it doesn’t have to compete with movie theaters. A computer could come up with that elegant solution as easily as it could solve global warming by killing all humans. But 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.”
After its SXSW premiere, Road House will land on Prime Video March 21st. Watch the newly revealed trailer below.
A remake of the 1989 classic, Road House stars Gyllenhaal as a former UFC fighter who takes a job as a bouncer at a scrappy watering hole in the Florida Keys.