Amazon Draws Suit for Stomping Out Woody Allen Films | Courthouse News Service
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Amazon Draws Suit for Stomping Out Woody Allen Films

As iconic for his films as for his taste in younger women, Woody Allen brought a $68 million federal complaint Thursday over a deal with Amazon Studios that became roadkill in the #MeToo movement.

MANHATTAN (CN) - As iconic for his films as for his taste in younger women, Woody Allen brought a $68 million federal complaint Thursday over a deal with Amazon Studios that became roadkill in the #MeToo movement.

Represented by Quinn Emmanuel, the 83-year-old director notes that he struck what was to be a four-picture financing and distribution deal with Amazon in 2017 on the heels of his success with “Cafe Society” in 2016 and “Wonder Wheel,” Amazon’s first self-distributed film, the following year.

While production was underway for “A Rainy Day in New York,” the first of the four pictures, Allen says the burgeoning crisis embroiling Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein led Amazon to push back their release date in December 2017.

By June, according to the complaint, Allen had just wrapped up post-production work on “Rainy Day” when Amazon purported to terminate their deal.

Allen says executives attributed their decision to “renewed allegations against Mr. Allen, [and] his own controversial comments,” but that these explanations are unable to address Amazon’s breach of contract.

“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 complaint states. “There simply was no legitimate ground for Amazon to renege on its promises.”

Though the complaint does not touch on the allegations directly, Allen underwent intense scrutiny in the months before Amazon’s termination letter when the children of his ex-wife Mia Farrow dug up long simmering allegations.

Farrow’s adopted daughter Dylan Farrow has insisted that Allen molested her when she was 7-years-old, and Dylan’s brother Ronan Farrow is widely credited with ushering in the #MeToo movement with his Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on Weinstein accusers.

Allen — who has been married to another of Mia Farrow’s adopted children, Soon-Yi, since 1997 — has denied the allegations.

“In short, after defendants used Mr. Allen to promote and build Amazon Studios’ standing as a full-fledged film studio, they discarded him, repudiated the Allen Film Agreements, and refused to honor their commitments to him or Gravier,” the complaint states, referring to Allen’s company.

Representatives for Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Amazon’s business dealings with Allen date back to its then-fledging streaming service in 2014, when it contracted with the director for a six-episode miniseries “Crisis in Six Scenes.” 

Allen says his four-picture deal included a commitment by Amazon to pay between $68 million and $73 million, plus additional amounts based on the success of the films.

The cast of the still-unreleased “Rainy Day” includes Jude Law, Selena Gomez, Elle Fanning, Diego Luna, Liev Schreiber and Timothée Chalamet.

Former Amazon head Roy Price resigned in October 2017 amid fallout over Weinstein.

Dylan Farrow first accused Allen of abusing her when she was 7 in August 1992 — the same year Allen and Mia Farrow split. Allen filed suit the following week for custody of Ronan Farrow, thought to be his biological son, as well as Dylan and another of Farrow’s adopted children, Moses.

Justice Elliot Wilk ultimately awarded custody of Dylan to Mia Farrow and severely restricted Allen's access to the other children.

In his June 7, 1993, custody ruling, Wilk wrote: “We will probably never know what occurred on August 4, 1992. The credible testimony of Ms. Farrow, Dr. Coates, and Mr. Allen does, however, prove that Mr. Allen’s behavior toward Dylan was grossly inappropriate and that measures must be taken to protect her.”

“His self-absorption, his lack of judgment, and his commitment to his divisive assault, thereby impeding the healing of the injuries he has already caused, warrant a careful monitoring of his future contact with the children,” Wilk said of Allen in the conclusion of the custody ruling.

Wilk’s decision was upheld in the Appellate Division, First Department, and the New York City Court of Appeals.

Farrow included the decision in its entirety in her 1997 memoir “What Falls Away.”

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