Missed the rerelease of Emilio Estevez’s ‘The Way’? There’s still a chance to see it

Emilio Estevez Actor, director, screenwriter, and producer Emilio Estevez talks with Raymond Arroyo in a May 11, 2023, interview on “The World Over with Raymond Arroyo.” | Credit: The World Over/YouTube

If you missed the one-day-only rerelease of “The Way” on Tuesday, May 16, you will still have another chance to see it.

The movie will be streamed again on various platforms this summer, the 2011 film’s director, Emilio Estevez, told Hearst newspapers. No further details were available.

The film stars Estevez’s father, Martin Sheen, as an eye doctor who while playing golf one day at his country club gets a phone call that his estranged son has died while walking the Camino de Santiago — the “Way of St. James.” He drops everything to travel to France to pick up the body — but then finds himself finishing the 500-mile journey his son started, meeting some interesting characters along the way and ending up a changed man.

The Camino is a 1,000-year-old pilgrimage route that starts in France and extends through Spain, ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. According to tradition, the remains of the apostle St. James are buried there.

So why rerelease a movie 12 years after it first came out?

Actor, producer, director, and screenwriter Estevez — whose credits include “The Breakfast Club,” “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “The Mighty Ducks,” and “Bobby” — called “The Way” his “legacy project.”

“I have never created a motion picture that has had more of an impact on so many people around the world,” he said. “Coming out of the pandemic, ‘The Way’ is more timely now than when we originally embarked on this journey 12 years ago.”

“We were a scrappy lot,” Estevez recalled in a recent interview with Metro Philadelphia. “[It] started out as this very independent production — I mean, we were funding the pre-production on our credit cards and my mom was using her mileage to bring actors over from Los Angeles to Madrid.”

“We rang the bell on a true grassroots level, and then the movie came out and it did okay,” said Estevez, who also wrote the screenplay and played the role of Sheen’s character’s son.

In a May 11 interview on “The World Over with Raymond Arroyo,” Estevez said he and his father even traveled by bus to promote the original release of the film.

“We drove across the country, and it was Martin and I doing two screenings a night, doing Q & As afterwards, one secular, one non,” Estevez told Arroyo.

Estevez noted the film gained a bit of a cult following, with some people buying dozens of copies to give to family and friends. “It was kind of a surprise little Indie movie,” he said in the Metro Philadelphia interview.

Martin Sheen (left) and Emilio Estevez attend "The Way" photocell at the Ritz Hotel on Nov. 10, 2010, in Madrid, Spain. Credit: Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images
Martin Sheen (left) and Emilio Estevez attend "The Way" photocell at the Ritz Hotel on Nov. 10, 2010, in Madrid, Spain. Credit: Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

The movie also sparked an interest in the Camino. In 2011, the year the film was released in the U.S., American Pilgrims on the Camino issued 1,858 credentials — a kind of “pilgrim’s passport,” Religion News Service reported. In 2012 that number went up to 3,570, and in 2013 it was 5,128. It continued to climb — reaching more than 7,000 credentials — until the pandemic hit in 2020.

But despite striking a chord with many viewers, the movie grossed a disappointing $4.4 million in U.S. theaters and $7.5 million internationally, and ended up bankrupt, Metro Philadelphia reported. Not long after, it landed in a motion-to-abandon-rights court in Delaware.

Then a couple of years ago a friend helped Estevez retrieve the rights, and it was repackaged and made ready for reboot through Fathom Events — for one night only — on Tuesday, May 16.

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“I had such high hopes, and then the movie kind of disappeared, and I was very disappointed,” Estevez said in the interview with Arroyo. “You put all that effort into something, but then here we are.”

“And again, it’s about the journey,” he said. “It’s not necessarily always about the destination. I know that sounds cliché, but I think this is one instance where it is living proof.”

The rerelease featured an interview at the end of the movie between Estevez, Sheen (a Catholic), and travel guru Rick Steves (a Christian), where they discussed the Camino, religion, travel, and the pandemic.

Regarding Estevez’s faith, Arroyo recalled that when the original movie came out Estevez, who has called himself an agnostic, said he was “a work in progress.” “Are you still?” Arroyo asked.

“I think we’re all a work in progress, aren’t we?” Estevez responded. “That sort of in the center of that piece of marble. We all reside and we sort of, you know, life sort of chips away and finds the authentic self.”

Family business

Arroyo said he found a quote from Estevez where he said “film is an illusion, fame is ephemeral, faith and family are what will endure.” 

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“How did you come to that formula?” Arroyo asked.

“Well, growing up in a show business household where my father stressed that family was important,” Estevez responded. “The work, yes, is important, but at the end of the day, you are left with the people that you love and the people who love you.”

“They’re not gonna bury you with all of your movies. They’re not gonna bury you with your work,” he continued. “So for me it was the family connection and staying close to not only my parents, but my siblings and now my children, and now my granddaughter.”

“The Way” doesn’t feel like a “wandering film,” Arroyo told Estevez, but more like a particular destination. “Do you have a particular destination?” Arroyo asked.

“I feel like I’m on this extraordinary road, this extraordinary journey where there’s so many discoveries being made every day in my life,” Estevez responded. “There are wonderful joys and wonderful disappointments. I embrace the disappointments as well, because sometimes the lessons that you learn the most from are not necessarily the triumphs of your life.”

“You have to look at every situation as a watershed for learning, for getting to whatever that next level is,” he continued. “And that, I think, has allowed me to re-embrace this rerelease of the movie.”

As for the movie’s sequel, Estevez said the story catches up with Tom (Sheen’s character) 10 years later. He’s now in Nigeria, working for Doctors Without Borders.

“Again, it's a very personal journey,” Estevez said. “It travels not only from Africa to Europe but goes to Dublin and Amsterdam, and Brussels and Paris, and arrives back in Spain on the northern route.”

You can watch Arroyo’s full interview with Estevez below.

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