Doug Liman, director of the upcoming Road House remake, is furious Amazon is sending his movie direct to streaming without a theatrical release.
Liman is so angry he’s boycotting the film’s premiere at the SXSW film festival. Liman is so peeved he wrote an op-ed for the far-left Deadline expressing his anger.
Based on what we know, the remake, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Dalton, the role The Mighty Patrick Swayze made forever iconic, tells the same story with a bit of a twist. Gyllenhaal’s Dalton is a former UFC fighter, which means the remake serves up a role for UFC champion Conor McGregor.
Other than that, Dalton comes to town to clean up a bar, and mayhem ensues. Well, let’s hope that’s the case. After all the garbage Hollywood’s Woke Nazis have been serving up, brace yourselves for a transsexual bouncer and plenty of lectures about toxic masculinity.
Why would anyone try to remake Road House (1989)? The original is PERFECT.
But who knows? I said the same thing about John Wayne’s True Grit (1969) and ended up loving the 2010 remake.
Anyway, what’s of interest here is the undertow. Liman says that when he agreed to direct the remake, Amazon told him that if he delivered a “great film” the studio would consider a full-blown theatrical release.
The director says he believed that because after Amazon acquired MGM, “they announced that they would put a billion dollars into theatrical motion pictures, releasing at least 12 a year.”
And then this happened. Limond writes:
We made Road House a “smash hit” – Amazon’s words not mine, btw. Road House tested higher than my biggest box office hit, Mr. and Mrs Smith. It tested higher than Bourne Identity, which spawned four sequels. I’m told the press response has been Amazon’s best since they bought MGM. Road House has a strong tie-in to the UFC, which has a rabid and loyal fan base that has spawned over 1.5 billion social media impressions for the film, and marketing hasn’t even started yet. The action is ground-breaking. And Jake Gyllenhaal gives a career-defining performance in a role he was born to play. Audiences will want to see UFC mega-star Conor McGregor take his debut swing at Jake on the big screen. The reality is there’s nothing quite so fun as a good bar fight.
[C]ontrary 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.
Liman adds that a streaming-only release “deprive[s] Jake Gyllenhaal — who gives a career-best performance — the opportunity to be recognized come award season.” That sounds a little hyperbolic to me. Unless there’s something else going on here, Road House is a boilerplate genre story meant to string together a bunch of ass-whoopings, not Shakespeare.
Liman goes on to make some apt points about the importance of the shared theatrical experience and why studios like Amazon should not undermine that experience by getting people used to consuming entertainment in their living rooms.
As always, though, what I find the most interesting about this story is what is not being said…
Direct-to-streaming movies evaporate. They have no shelf-life in our culture or the popular imagination. Good or bad, without a theatrical release, once the algorithm is done with them, so are we. They disappear from the top of the streaming queue and are never heard from again. Why? Because content is just that, content. Good or bad, it is all advertised as this week’s disposable filler.
The only direct-to-streaming movie I can think of that left any kind of mark is Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman (2019). But that required the power of Scorsese, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino… It also happens to be a masterpiece. Additionally, with its languid pacing and 209-minute length, The Irishman didn’t play like a movie. Instead, it felt like a five-part limited series.
This evaporation is not because of the made-for-TV taint. Plenty of movies produced at the height of the made-for-TV era had a huge impact on our culture: Duel (1971), The Day After (1983), Helter Skelter (1976), Brian’s Song (1971), The Night Stalker (1972), Threads (1984), The Gathering (1977), A Christmas Carol (1984), And the Band Played On (1993), Salem’s Lot (1979), and on and on…
So what’s the difference?
To begin with, most of the TV movies listed above were advertised nationwide as “event movies.” Some, like Duel and The Night Stalker, found an audience, but these titles weren’t dropped onto a billion-dollar pile of crap, which is exactly what streaming services are.
Then there’s the fact that the TV movies listed above are objectively great, which is why we still remember and rewatch them.
Finally, TV movies were available to all of us. They were broadcast nationwide, and as one culture, we sat down to watch them together as a nation. Now that Hollywood has alienated half the culture, those days are long over.
The bottom line, however, is and always will be quality…
Does anyone worry they are missing some hidden gem in Netflix’s or Amazon’s or Disney+’s massive pile of crap? And even if we believed there was a gem, who wants to waste their life searching for it? No movie is worth a thousand hours of bad streaming content full of gay sex, normalized weirdos, smug characters, and ignorant lectures.
One more thing about those TV movies listed above… Their appeal is universal. Those movies were made for normal people, not pierced, purple-haired, neurotic white women who celebrate their abortions.
Maybe Liman’s Road House is awesome. It doesn’t matter, and he knows it. Because Hollywood produces so much unwatchable trash, the only chance his Road House has to make a mark is in theaters. Without that, it will be forgotten in a week — another piece of content dropped onto a disposable pile of trash.
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