The film, which is a remake of the original 1989 film that starred Patrick Swayze, follows an ex-UFC middleweight fighter who ends up working at a rowdy bar in the Florida Keys, played by Brokeback Mountain actorJake Gyllenhaal.
Liman, whose directing credits include Edge of Tomorrow and the 2005 film Mr & Mrs Smith, has now called out Amazon’s decision to stream the movie, which is “so clearly made for the big screen”.
The film will be premiering in Texas at the SXSW film festival in March, but Liman wrote in an open letter that he will “not be attending”.
“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,” he wrote in the letter published by Deadline.
He said his original plan was to “silently protest” against Amazon’s decision to stream the film, but he could not stay quiet.
“Amazon is hurting way more than just me and my film. If I don’t speak up about Amazon, who will? So here we go…” he wrote.
Liman has said that when he agreed to direct Road House, he signed to MGM. But in March 2022, Amazon acquired the century-old film studios for approximately $8.5bn (£6.7bn) and said it was committed to “delivering a broad slate of original films and television shows to a global audience”.
“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,” he said.
However, Liman claimed that Amazon had “no interest in supporting cinemas” after it decided to stream Road House exclusively on Prime Video.
The Independent has contacted Amazon for comment.
“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 continued.
He said that the decision “hurts” filmmakers and the actors who star in Road House, who don’t “share in the upside of a hit movie on a streaming platform.
“And they deprive Jake Gyllenhaal – who gives a career-best performance – the opportunity to be recognized come award season.”
“If we don’t put tentpole movies in movie theaters, there won’t be movie theaters in the future,” he continued. “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 said that while he is not opposed to streaming movies – since he made one of Amazon’s first original movies for streaming – he is “opposed to Amazon gutting MGM and its theatrical business”.
“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.”
When Amazon Studios announced it had acquired MGM, Mike Hopkins, senior VP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios said in a statement: “We welcome MGM employees, creators, and talent to Prime Video and Amazon Studios, and we look forward to working together to create even more opportunities to deliver quality storytelling to our customers.”
MGM, founded in 1924, has brought Amazon a catalogue of more than 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV shows from major franchises.
Amazon believes “the real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of [intellectual property] in the deep catalogue that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,” Hopkins said in a statement announcing the deal.