‘Road House’ Lands Roundhouse On Opening Night Of SXSW, Proving It Has Big-Screen Muscle

After the rolling laughs, hoots, hollers, whistling and clapping at tonight’s world premiere of Road House at SXSW on Friday, Amazon MGM Studios may want to think again before putting this Jake Gyllenhaal-Conor McGregor rock ’em sock ’em beefcakes pugilist movie on Prime Video. It doesn’t take an elbow to the head to wake up to the fact that Road House clearly needs to make a destination to cinemas.

The jam-packed Paramount Theatre here in Austin, TX devoured this Doug Liman-directed movie like a dozen beef ribs from Terry Black’s Barbeque. By no means was this last-minute, unexpected trip for Liman a waste of time for the filmmaker.

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While the streamer has turned a corner and committed to theatrical, and is largely judicious in making the proper call as to what goes on the service or on the big screen, this non-stop action-in-paradise movie, shot in Imax and further laced with Dolby 7.1 sound, is certainly worth leaving the couch for. Spoiler alert, there’s one action scene in the film that’s totally suitable for big-screen love, involving Gyllenhaal’s bar bouncer getting hit by a truck while strolling across a bridge.

RELATED: Doug Liman Changes Mind, Attends SXSW Opening Night ‘Road House’ Premiere

At a time when many exclaim that Hollywood doesn’t make enough movies for the middle of the country, tonight was iron-clad proof there’s an audience for Road House. Typically, SXSW of late has kicked off with a genre (Us, A Quiet Place) or a fantasy movie (Dungeons & Dragons; Everything Everywhere All at Once) for the cineaste heads here in the Texas capital.

But this UFC-themed movie clearly plays to burly dudes of all ages. Amazon MGM’s distribution move here with Road House, which is scheduled to hit Prime Video on March 21, is mind-boggling after tonight’s roaring premiere given that the studio did box office wonders in the flyover states over Christmas with George Clooney’s fresh-face period drama The Boys in the Boat, which minted $52.5 million. That pic grossed more than several other adult-skewing titles over the holiday including the starry Ferrari ($18.6M) and the Zac Efron-Jeremy Allen White pic Iron Claw ($35M). Given the fun, fun, fun-in-the-sun sensibility of this Key West, Florida-set action pic, there’s gotta be room on the summer calendar for Road House. It’s reminiscent of the country fried movies Hollywood used to make in the late ’70s, i.e., the Clint Eastwood tentpole Every Which Way But Loose ($85.1M) and Smokey and the Bandit ($126.7M) but with significantly more punch and blood.

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Gyllenhaal introduced tonight’s screening, expressing gratitude to not just Liman but to the Amazon suits including Jen Salke and Stephen Bruno, and more.

How did Road House with all of Liman’s gripes over the pic going to streaming, wind up opening SXSW? Simply put, the festival asked to screen the film, and wanted it. Great call.

Afterwards, Dax Shepard moderated the post-screening Q&A.

“How much is a drink at the Road House if you can pay your bouncer $20K a month?” asked Shepard as McGregor rambled with glee.

Shepard hysterically interrupted McGregor, “Hey, the studio wants these questions asked.”

Screamed Shepard to Gyllenhaal, “What a physique my friend, from the abs to the quads to the lats — how does one get in great shape?”

“I had a great team,” answered Gyllenhaal.

“A CGI team,” quipped Shepard.

“When you’re going up against someone like Conor McGregor, you have to have something,” answered Gyllenhaal.

“It’s like buying that house you wanted — WTF did I just do?!,” said Gyllenhaal after McGregor joined the cast. “It’s an incredible feeling and then you’re like what the hell did I just do?”

Among those appearing onstage after the premiere were Daniela Melchoir, Jessica Williams, Billy Magnussen, Lukas Gage, JD Pardo and Post Malone.

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