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‘Road House’ Director Doug Liman Gets Standing Ovation at SXSW After Saying He’d Boycott the Premiere

Doug Liman got a standing ovation at the SXSW premiere of his remake of “Road House” — an event that he originally promised he’d boycott.

Festivalgoers chanted his name — “Doug! Doug! Doug!” — at the end of a post-screening Q&A after star Jake Gyllenhaal called out to the director, who was seated among the crowd.

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Gyllenhaal first made Liman’s attendance known while introducing the film, saying, “I want to thank our incredible director. He’s in the audience tonight. He’s been a friend for over 15 years, I’ve wanted to work with him for that time, we’re so lucky. He’s so brilliant and this movie is too.”

Of course, Gyllenhaal also made a point to thank the company that Liman’s boycott was meant to target. Before mentioning Liman or his castmates, the actor said, “We have our Amazon folks here, who have been so fantastic,” mentioning studio chief Jennifer Salke and other executives by name.

In January, Liman penned an open letter explaining his decision to skip the debut of his film, saying that Amazon had “asked [him] and the film community to trust them and their public statements about supporting cinemas” and then broken that trust by deciding to stream the film on Amazon Prime Video instead of giving it a theatrical release.

Sources told Variety in February that Amazon had given the filmmakers a choice between a $60 million budget for a theatrical release, or $85 million for streaming, and that the filmmakers had opted for the latter. (Liman declined to comment.) In an interview, Gyllenhaal said that “Amazon was always clear that it was streaming.”

Besides Liman and Gyllenhaal, it was Conor McGregor who got the most attention Friday night, as “Road House” marked the UFC fighter’s acting debut. Before, during and after the screening, fans called out, “Let’s go, Notorious!” referencing a nickname for McGregor that rings ironic in light of the sexual assault allegations against him, though he never faced criminal charges.

Dax Shepard, who moderated the Q&A, did ask a question about McGregor’s casting in the film — though he focused on the boxer’s physique. As Gyllenhaal and McGregor’s characters get into two intense fights in the movie, he asked, “How much were you pumped that it was him, and how much were you like, ‘I can’t pull this off’?”

“We were chasing Conor and hoping that he would do the movie, and then all of a sudden we got the call that he was doing it,” Gyllenhaal said. “And you know that feeling when you buy the house you always wanted and you’re like, ‘Oh shit, what did I just do?’ It was like, ‘This is the most incredible feeling,’ and then I wanted to run as far as I possibly could.”

“Road House” opened with a title card paying tribute to Patrick Swayze, who starred in the original 1989 film. “In memory of Patrick Swayze whose legacy of strength and greatness reminds us all to BE NICE,” it read.

Onstage, when asked by Shepard which action stars he looked up to as a kid, Gyllenhaal shouted out Swayze again. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t if I didn’t bring Mr. Swayze back,” he said. “Though it wasn’t, at first, ‘Road House.’ It was ‘Point Break.’ Subsequently, my sister took me to see ‘Dirty Dancing,’ like, four times.”

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