Woody Allen filed a $68 million suit against Amazon Studios Thursday, alleging that the streamer has backed out of a four-picture deal due to “a 25-year-old, baseless allegation.”
Allen alleges that Amazon has refused to release his film “A Rainy Day in New York,” though it has been complete for more than six months. The suit also states that Amazon has given only vague reasons for dropping the project, and for reneging on a promise to produce three other movies.
“Amazon has tried to excuse its action by referencing a 25-year-old, baseless allegation against Mr. Allen, but that allegation was already well known to Amazon (and the public) before Amazon entered into four separate deals with Mr. Allen — and, in any event it does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate the contract,” the suit alleges. “There simply was no legitimate ground for Amazon to renege on its promises.”
Allen’s daughter, Dylan Farrow, has long alleged that Allen sexually abused her when she was a child. Allen has steadfastly denied the allegations.
According to the suit, Amazon executives Jason Ropell and Matt Newman met with Allen’s representatives in December 2017, as the #MeToo movement was first gathering steam. The executives cited the reputational harm Amazon had suffered due to its association with Harvey Weinstein and the misconduct allegations against former Amazon Studios head Roy Price. In January 2018, the streamer’s general counsel, Ajay Patel, proposed delaying the release of “A Rainy Day in New York” until 2019, which Allen accepted.
The suit alleges that Patel sent a notice in June 2018 terminating the four-picture agreement, saying that Amazon had no intention to distribute any of the films. According to the suit, Patel did not provide a reason for terminating the deal. Subsequently, Amazon’s representatives stated they were canceling the agreement, due to “supervening events, including renewed allegations against Mr. Allen, his own controversial comments, and the increasing refusal of top talent to work with or be associated with him in any way, all of which have frustrated the purpose of the Agreement.”
The suit seeks $68 million in minimum guarantee payments arising from the four films, in addition to damages and attorneys fees. The suit was filed in the Southern District of New York.
Amazon distributed Allen’s last two films, “Wonder Wheel” and “Cafe Society.” When the “Cafe Society” deal was announced in February 2016, Allen issued a statement: “Like all beginning relationships, there is much hope, mutual affection and genuine goodwill — the lawsuits come later.”