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Jake Gyllenhaal's Road House Trailer Is A Knockout - So Why Isn't It Hitting Theaters?

Amazon Studios has finally debuted the first trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal's highly-anticipated "Road House" remake.

In 1989, Patrick Swayze stepped into the shoes of James Dalton, a bouncer who protects a little town from nefarious capitalists in "Road House." The film quickly became a fascination for cinephiles and has achieved cult-like status. In 2021, "Edge of Tomorrow" director Doug Liman signed on to give the film a contemporary take.

In the movie's first trailer, Gyllenhaal's Elwood Dalton is a down-on-his-luck ex-UFC fighter whose glory days are behind him. After a chance encounter with Jessica Williams' character, Dalton receives the opportunity to be a bouncer at a Florida Keys roadhouse. Of course, a simple gig turns chaotic. Soon, a businessman attempts to transform the watering hole into a resort — leading to Conor McGregor's character going toe-to-toe with Dalton. (Yes, UFC champion Conor McGregor has a starring — and seemingly devious — role here. From lush visuals to hard-hitting action sequences, "Road House" looks like an absolute knockout of a film for Liman and Gyllenhaal. 

Ok, 2024's "Road House" seems like the perfect crowd-pleasing summer tentpole for a major studio, so why isn't Prime Video sending the film to cinemas like Ben Afleck's "Air?" According to Liman's guest column at Deadline, it's likely due to an "algorithm" that cares more about "selling toasters" than supporting movie theaters or creative artists.

Director Doug Liman is upset Road House isn't hitting cinemas

A day before the trailer for "Road House" debuted, Liman — a proven blockbuster hitmaker in Hollywood — highlighted his grievances with Amazon Studios for not giving the film a theatrical release. In early March, the film will premiere at 2024's SXSW film festival. However, Liman stated that he won't attend the event. He further wrote, "The facts: I signed up to make a theatrical motion picture for MGM. Amazon bought MGM. Amazon said make a great film and we will see what happens. I made a great film."

In his column, Liman discussed how "Road House" was widely praised and labeled as a "smash hit" by execs, highlighting the film's highly positive test scores. Despite the film's acclaim though, Amazon isn't choosing to back the film's financial viability with a blockbuster rollout — nor allow him to sell to another studio that would financially support (and market) a theatrical release.

"If we don't put tentpole movies in movie theaters, there won't be movie theaters in the future," he noted. "... 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." The director also pointed out how a straight-to-streaming release deprives Gyllenhaal of glory once awards season comes around too — a bummer of a note, considering Liman called this a "career-defining" role for the star.

Road House deserves a theatrical release

One can't help but feel sympathetic for Liman and Gyllenhaal in this scenario — especially after Amazon Studios promised that they'd put a billion dollars into theatrical motion pictures after buying MGM Studios. Liman signed up to make a theatrical picture and Amazon shafted him. And it's not like "Road House" looks like a dud — the trailer is genuinely impressive, and Liman has the receipts to back up the praise the film received from execs. If "Road House" was given a theatrical release, it's honestly not hard to imagine it making a pretty penny at the box office like "The Beekeeper," which is on track to gross over $85 million by the end of its theatrical run. 

To its further credit, "Road House" has significant ties to the globally popular UFC. The film was shot at a UFC event and features several iconic fighters, including the aforementioned and living legend Conor McGregor. Over 1.5 billion UFC fans have engaged with media surrounding the release of "Road House" on social media too. If marketed well to UFC and action movie fans, "Road House" could have made a killing at the box office. Alas, Jake Gyllenhaal's "Road House" will stream on Prime Video on March 21 — but here's hoping that changes.