‘Road House’ Skipped Theaters in Exchange for a Bigger Budget

Things are getting rowdy behind the scenes at “Road House.”

On Wednesday, Variety reported that the new “Road House” could have avoided a streaming debut, but before production began Amazon gave “the filmmakers and (star Jake) Gyllenhaal” a choice: $60 million budget and theatrical; $85 million and streaming. They chose the latter.

“The filmmakers” presumably refers to director Doug Liman and producer Joel Silver. (JJ Hook, Alison Winter, Aaron Auch, and Audie Attar are executive producers; Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry penned the script.)

“They all took the money,” a source told Variety.

Amazon declined comment on this story, as did a rep for Liman. Reps for Gyllenhaal and Silver did not immediately respond to IndieWire’s request for comment.

A bigger budget typically means a larger upfront payday for the filmmakers and their star(s). Without a theatrical run, those principals won’t see nearly as much on the back end. The best of both worlds would be getting more upfront money and then turning in such an undeniable blockbuster that a theatrical run would be undeniable — regardless of the original deal. Wouldn’t that be neat.

Per a November Variety report, Silver was let go from “Road House” and another Amazon film, Mark Wahlberg’s “Play Dirty,” over accusations he berated MGM marketing head Sue Kroll and relatively new Amazon film head Courtenay Valenti. The new report suggests at least one source of friction was the “Road House” release strategy.

Sources close to Silver previously said he was penalized by the studio for “raising concerns about Amazon wanting to use AI to finish ‘Road House’ production during the strike.” Amazon has denied ever considering the use of AI on “Road House.”

Regardless of which side you fall on, it is clear that timing was a major foe. When the new “Road House” was conceived, Amazon and MGM were different companies. One $8.5 billion acquisition later and the update to the 1989 Patrick Swayze film, which Silver produced, was in trouble. MGM’s Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy left to run Warner Bros., and the big-screen dreams shrunk down to size.

All of this led to Liman recently writing a first-person essay for Deadline saying he is skipping the film’s March 8 SXSW premiere to protest the exclusive streaming release. In the interest of transparency, we agreed with him based on the information available at the time. (It’d still be pretty kick ass to see in theaters.)

“Road House,” which also stars Daniela Melchior, Billy Magnussen, Jessica Williams, Joaquim de Almeida, Austin Post (AKA Post Malone), Conor McGregor, Lukas Gage, Arturo Castro, B.K. Cannon, Beau Knapp, Darren Barnet, Dominique Columbus, Bob Menery, Catfish Jean, Kevin Carroll, Travis Van Winkle, and Hannah Lanier, will stream on Amazon Prime Video on March 21.

SOURCE: IndieWire

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