Woody Allen sues Amazon for $68m after company axes film deal over sexual abuse accusation
Allen accuses the Amazon.com Inc unit of backing out in June without cause
Allen says he deserves at least $68 million in damages for Amazon Studios’ refusal to distribute his completed movie A Rainy Day in New York, and its decision to abandon a four-picture production and distribution arrangement.
The filmmaker, 83, accused the Amazon.com Inc unit of backing out in June without cause, after allegations had resurfaced that he had in 1992 molested his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow.
“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,” the complaint said. “It does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate the contract.”
The breach-of-contract lawsuit was filed with the US District Court in Manhattan.
Allen has long denied the allegation by Dylan Farrow and her mother Mia Farrow, who appeared in a dozen of his films and was his longtime partner. He has not been charged.
Some actors expressed regret for appearing in Allen’s films after Dylan Farrow’s accusation gained renewed attention in the #MeToo movement, which began in late 2017.
In the complaint, Allen said Amazon Studios had already contracted with him and his Gravier Productions to distribute his films Cafe Society and Wonder Wheel before entering the four-film agreement in August 2017.
But he said studio executives soon expressed concern about “negative publicity and reputational harm” it faced over harassment claims against former Amazon Studios president Roy Price, and its ties to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Weinstein has denied allegations by more than 70 women of sexual misconduct. The Wall Street Journal said Price has disputed claims against him.
Allen said he agreed to delay the release of Rainy Day, only to have Amazon Studios cancel their contract altogether.
“Amazon cannot continue in business with Mr Allen,” Amazon Studios associate general counsel Ajay Patel wrote in a 19 June email.
Six days later, Amazon Studios’ outside lawyer emailed that “renewed allegations against Mr Allen, his own controversial comments, and the increasing refusal of top talent to work with or be associated with him” supported the decision to back out.
Allen’s lawyers said none of this justified the cancellation. Both emails were attached to the complaint.
The Independent has contacted Amazon for more information.