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Jake Gyllenhaal’s ‘Road House’ facing AI lawsuit, director drama ahead of debut

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The Roadhouse remake starring Jake Gyllenhaal faces two major hurdles before its release.

This week, screenwriter R. Lance Hill sued MGM Studios and its parent company Amazon for copyright infringement and for using AI to circumvent deadlines in violation of New Actors Guild and Directors Guild agreements. filed a lawsuit.

In documents obtained by Fox News Digital filed in U.S. Central District Court in Los Angeles, Hill and his attorney Mark Toberoff claim that Amazon and MGM have no right to authorship of Hill’s original “Road House” screenplay under copyright law. They claim that the right to have their rights restored was ignored.

Hill, who also used the pen name David Lee Henry, wrote the screenplay “on spec” (meaning “his own initiative”), transferred the copyright to the studio United Artists in 1986, and the studio released it in 1989. He produced a film that was completed in .

A remake of Road House starring Jake Gyllenhaal is facing both a legal battle and a boycott from its director. (Laura Radford/©Amazon Content Services LLC)

What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

The original version, released in 1989, starred Patrick Swayze. It was a success upon its original release and gained cult status over the years thanks to cable television.

Under copyright law, Hill has until November 11, 2023 to regain ownership of his screenplay, and in late 2021 he began the process of reclaiming the rights from United Artists. Artists will be merged with MGM in 2023.

But the lawsuit alleges that Amazon, which owns the rights to “Road House” through its acquisition of MGM’s movie library, ignored Hill’s copyright claims and “fast-tracked production of the remake,” past a November deadline. He claims to have completed it.

According to the filing, Amazon has “repeatedly set and emphasized November 10, 2023 as a self-imposed deadline to complete the 2024 remake, which means that Hill’s contract will be terminated on November 11, 2023.” It was the very day before it went into effect. This is no coincidence.”

Patrick Swayze at the Roadhouse

Patrick Swayze starred in the original version of Road House in 1989. (Alamy)

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“The Hill has further information that Defendants have gone to extreme measures to meet this November 10, 2023 deadline, including relying on the use of AI (artificial intelligence), at significant additional cost. In 2023, the Screen Actors Guild (“SAG”) announced that the actors’ voices would be duplicated in the 2024 remake for ADR (Automatic Dialogue Replacement) purposes. and the Directors Guild of America’s collective bargaining agreement. “These are not the actions of a company that truly believes that firing Hill was ineffective.”

According to the lawsuit, the remake was completed in January, two months after the deadline.

Hill is seeking restoration of copyright to the script and a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent the remake from being released.

A spokesperson for Amazon MGM Studios told FOX News Digital: “The lawsuit filed by R. Lance Hill regarding ‘Road House Today’ is completely without merit and many of the allegations are patently false. “No AI was used in place of actors in this film,” it said in a statement. We look forward to defending ourselves against these claims. ”

Jake Gyllenhaal's movie

Amazon Prime Video’s billboard campaign on the Sunset Strip promotes the new movie “Road House,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal. A spokesperson for Amazon MGM Studios told Fox News Digital that the lawsuit is “absolutely without merit.” (AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC image)

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Hill’s attorney, Mark Toberoff, issued a statement on behalf of his client.

“Since I wrote it as a spec in 1986, ‘Road House’ has become a worldwide cult phenomenon. But recently, when I regained the copyright, MGM/Amazon tried to let me go.” said Hill.

Toberoff added his own comments. “The asset base of every major entertainment studio is content, and without content we have nothing. It’s time to respect the fundamental rights and artistry of creators that are the foundation of our empires.”

AI expert Marva Baylor said there were still many unknowns in the case, and that more details would be revealed in court if it went that far.

Jake Gyllenhaal close-up

A remake of “Roadhouse” starring Jake Gyllenhaal. (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney)

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“So this is really a timeline and technology issue,” Baylor told FOX News Digital. “We don’t have all the information from both sides of this story.”

She continued, “They could have potentially used AI as a rough cut, because if you look at the timeline, potentially the lead actors could have actually gone on strike. So they were participating in films and projects, and they may have been on strike themselves.” “They could have done all of these high-level tasks. So they might have used AI, but they might not have used it because it’s expensive to use AI. , is this an area that really needs to be used before release?”

Baylor also pointed out that AI is not necessarily the primary issue at hand in litigation, but rather the ever-changing approach to how movies are currently released.

“i guess [AI is] It’s attracting a lot of attention, but it’s definitely an unknown presence, so it’s nerve-wracking. But these new models for economics and fan engagement are also literally unknown. ” she said. “So you have to have some kind of trust in the fans and the studios. Studios are testing the activation of new immersive experiences right after release and throughout their lifecycle. And that’s why we It’s really something to look at, and people need to be open to participating in this.”

roadhouse jake gyllenhaal poster

Doug Liman, director of the Road House remake, is boycotting the film’s premiere at the SXSW festival because it won’t be released in theaters. (Amazon/MGM)

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In his statement, Hill also addressed the recent dispute between Road House director Doug Liman and Amazon/MGM over the film’s lack of theatrical release.

“We are pleased that Doug Liman’s ‘Road House’ remake is considered his and Jake Gyllenhaal’s best work to date. However, MGM/Amazon has announced that ‘Road House’ (2024) rather than releasing it in Japan, it seems they intend to embed it in a streaming slot.” “It’s a big screen where great movies and movie stars belong. Talent should not come here, but be careful. It might be a good idea to put a sign out front advising you to please,” Hill said, via Toberoff.

In a guest column for Deadline, Lehman explained that he “will not be attending” the premiere of “Road House” at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival on March 8.

“This movie is great and probably my best work. I’m sure it’ll be a riot and people will probably be dancing in their seats during the end credits, but I’m not going there,” Lehman wrote.

Doug Liman sits on a chair with a microphone

Doug Liman said in an editorial for Deadline, “This movie is great, probably my best. It’ll rock the room and probably have the audience dancing in their seats during the end credits. But I don’t want to be there. I’m not going,” he wrote. At the SXSW premiere. (Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)

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He continued, “My plan was to quietly protest Amazon’s decision to stream movies that were clearly made for the big screen. But what Amazon is hurting is me and… It’s not just about my movies. If I don’t speak up about Amazon, who will?” ”

Lehman said he was contracted to direct the film at MGM, which was later acquired by Amazon.

“Amazon told me to make a great movie, so let’s see what happens. I made a great movie,” Lehman said, adding that he was told it was a “blockbuster.” By the way, these are Amazon’s words, not mine.

The director says that even though Amazon has said it is investing in theatrical release after acquiring MGM, “Amazon is not interested in supporting movie theaters. “Amazon has asked me and the movie industry to trust them.” And despite their public statements of support for movie theaters, they’ve turned around and are now using Roadhouse to sell plumbing equipment. ”

Doug Liman posing on the red carpet

Lehman said he was frustrated that Amazon deemed the film a “huge hit” but refused to release it exclusively on Prime Video. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

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“That’s a blow to filmmakers and ‘Roadhouse’ stars who don’t share the benefits of hit movies on streaming platforms,” ​​he continued. “And they will deprive Jake Gyllenhaal, who gave the best performance of his career, of the opportunity to be recognized during awards season. But the impact goes far beyond this one movie. , which could shape the industry for decades to come.”

Jake Gyllenhaal sitting on stage

Jake Gyllenhaal told Total Film that he liked Lehman’s “persistence,” but that “Amazon was always clear that it was a streaming distribution.” (Dominic Bindle/Getty Images)

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Variety reports that the situation is even more complicated, with sources telling the outlet that Lehman has the choice of either releasing the film in theaters at a cost of $60 million or releasing it exclusively on streaming at a cost of $85 million. It is said that he was given a choice and chose the latter.

In an interview with Total Film, Gyllenhaal addressed the Lehman boycott.

“I respect Doug’s tenacity and I think he’s an advocate for filmmakers and movies and movies in theatrical release. But I mean, Amazon has always made it clear that it’s streaming. ” he told the media.

Gyllenhaal continued, “I just want as many people as possible to see this movie. And we live in a world where the way we see movies, the way we view movies, and the way movies are made is changing. I think it’s obvious to me and what I feel.”very loved [Liman’s] His deep love for this movie, how much he values ​​it, how great he thinks it is, and how much he wants more people to see it. ”

He added, “I have also sat down to watch movies on my computer or elsewhere and been deeply moved.If the job of a story is to move people, I have been moved in both ways. I’m human,” he added. I love movies and theatrical releases, but I also love the world of streaming. ”

“Roadhouse” will be available on Prime Video from March 21st.

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