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Road House: Amazon denies AI was used to recreate original actors’ voices as lawsuit filed

Road House: Amazon denies AI was used to recreate original actors’ voices as lawsuit filed

Amazon has been taken to court for allegedly using Artificial Intelligence (AI)  to “replicate the voices” of the actors in the 2024 remake of Road House.

R. Lance Hill, the original screenwriter of the 1989 action film, sued Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) and its parent company, Amazon Studios, claiming copyright infringement.

The new Doug Lyman-directed film follows an ex-UFC middleweight fighter who ends up working at a rowdy bar in the Florida Keys, played by Brokeback Mountain actor Jake Gyllenhaal.

According to the complaint, Hill alerted the original film's producers, United Artists, in 2021 that the copyright grant to the film was ending and the rights would go back to him on 11 November 2023.

“Defendants’ [Amazon] unauthorized 2024 Remake was not completed until late January 9, 2024, well after the effective date of Hill’s statutory termination. This case arises from Defendants’ blatant copyright infringement due to their willful failure to license the requisite motion picture and ancillary rights to Hill’s Screenplay underlying their derivative 2004 Remake as required by law,” the complaint states.

The screenwriter also alleges Amazon misused AI during the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) strike in 2023 to replicate the voices of the actors in the 2024 remake, in an attempt to finish the movie before the copyright expired.

The movie was completed in January – about two months after the copyright deadline, he claims.

Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Road House’ (Prime Video)
Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Road House’ (Prime Video)

The use of AI during the SAG strike would be a violation of the collective bargaining agreements between the major Hollywood studios and the unions.

Amazon denies the allegations and said they are “categorically false”.

“The lawsuit filed by R. Lance Hill regarding ‘Road House’ today is completely without merit and numerous allegations are categorically false,” an Amazon MGM Studios spokesperson said in a statement.

“The film does not use any AI in place of actors’ voices. We look forward to defending ourselves against these claims.”

Connor McGregor and Jake Gyllenhaal (PA)
Connor McGregor and Jake Gyllenhaal (PA)

The lawsuit seeks to block distribution of the film, which is set to become available on 21 March on Amazon Prime Video.

The film has already been surrounded by other controversies, with director Doug Liman saying he will be boycotting the premiere of the film over Amazon Prime’s decision for a streaming-only release.

Liman, whose directing credits include Edge of Tomorrow and the 2005 film Mr & Mrs Smith, said the movie is “so clearly made for the big screen”.