Jake Gyllenhaal isn’t throwing Amazon out of the Double Deuce and under the bus. The “Road House” star says “Amazon was always clear” the new movie was intended for a streaming-only release.

Director Doug Liman has been singing a different tune in public — likely a last-minute attempt to persuade Amazon to change its release plan. (In the interest of full disclosure, IndieWire’s Tony Maglio wrote an essay backing Liman’s own essay on the subject.)

“I adore Doug’s tenacity, and I think he is advocating for filmmakers, and film in the cinema, and theatrical releases. But, I mean, Amazon was always clear that it was streaming,” Gyllenhaal told Total Film magazine. “I just want as many people to see it as possible. And I think we’re living in a world that’s changing in how we see and watch movies, and how they’re made. What’s clear to me, and what I loved so much, was [Liman’s] deep love for this movie, and his pride at how much he cares for it, how good he feels it is, and how much people should see it.”

Gyllenhaal continued that a streaming-only rollout does not undermine the quality of the feature film itself. “I’ve also sat watching a film on my computer, or in different places, and been so profoundly moved. If the job of a story is to move people, I have been moved in both forms,” Gyllenhaal said. “I’m a deep lover of cinema and the theatrical release — but I also do really embrace the streaming world.”

UFC champion Conor McGregor, who makes his big screen debut in the upcoming reimagining of the 1989 MGM film starring Patrick Swayze, added, “I’d love for it to be in theaters. I’m for the theater. I understand the business, also … I’d love a call with Bezos.” McGregor’s probably got a better chokehold than Liman.

“Road House” will make its world premiere opening night at the 2024 SXSW Film & TV Festival. The film will then debut March 21 on Prime Video.

Variety reported earlier this month that Amazon gave the “Road House” filmmakers a choice between a $60 million budget and theatrical release, or a $85 million budget and streaming rollout. The filmmakers and Gyllenhaal chose the latter.

Now, Liman is publicly “protesting” the streaming-only premiere. “Amazon is hurting way more than just me and my film. If I don’t speak up about Amazon, who will?” Liman wrote in his January 2024 guest column for Deadline.

The director continued, “When Amazon bought MGM, one of the few remaining studios making big commercial films for 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. They touted it as ‘the largest commitment to cinemas by an internet company.’ 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.”

National Board of Review Awards Gala, New York, America - 05 Jan 2016
Doug LimanStephen Lovekin/Variety/REX

Liman stated that he signed on for a “theatrical motion picture for MGM” with the “Road House” remake prior to the Amazon/MGM merger in an $8.5 billion deal in March 2022.

“Amazon bought MGM. Amazon said make a great film and we will see what happens. I made a great film,” Liman said. “We tried everything to convince them to put ‘Road House’ in theaters — they know all the arguments I presented here. I even asked them to allow me to sell ‘Road House’ to another studio that would put it in theaters — they said no. Maybe they are victims in this as well, forced to betray the artists they spent their careers supporting.”

Liman concluded, “Contrary to their public statements, Amazon has no interest in supporting cinemas. Amazon will exclusively stream ‘Road House’ on Amazon 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.”

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