Woody Allen wants to take Amazon to court. The company shelved the director’s last movie, A Rainy Day in New York, and ended a film production deal with Allen when accusations of sexual assault by his daughter, Dylan Farrow, entered the news cycle again. Today, Allen filed a breach of contract lawsuit in New York Federal Court, claiming the studio did so without cause. And he is pursuing $68 million “in guarantees and further monetary damages.” The new complaint states: “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. There simply was no legitimate ground for Amazon to renege on its promises.”
Allen first signed with Amazon in 2015 to make the TV series A Crisis in Six Scenes. Then in 2016, the company bought what would become Allen’s film Café Society and made subsequent deals for three more films. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “These were rich pacts that according to new court documents, guaranteed Allen’s company Gravier Productions minimum guaranteed payments totaling between $68 million and $73 million.” Later that year, Ronan Farrow wrote an editorial about Allen’s alleged abuse of Dylan, and the relationship with Amazon started to get shakier.
They put Rainy Day, which Allen spent a reported $20 million on in financing, on an indefinite release hold. (Amazon is allegedly refusing to fulfill guaranteed payments on the film, and Allen claims he is owed “$9 million in such guarantees plus additional amounts based on the success of the film.”) Many celebrities announced their regrets over working with the filmmaker (though he still has some staunch defenders), and Amazon met with Allen at the end of 2017 to discuss, as stated in the new complaint, “the negative publicity and reputational harm Amazon Studios had received because of allegations made against its former President, Mr. Price, and its association with Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company.” In that meeting, Amazon is said to have agreed to give Rainy Day its theatrical release “consistent with Amazon Content’s contractual obligation to do so.”
Allen apparently accepted those terms, but with that movie still out of circulation and Amazon informing him in 2018 that the company “does not intend to distribute or otherwise exploit the Pictures in any domestic or international territories,” the filmmaker is now suing for breach of contract. Allen’s complaint does state, however, that Amazon did make clear to the filmmaker its agreement had become “impracticable” as a result of “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.”