UPDATED on Feb. 7 at 5:07 p.m. ET with statement from Woody Allen’s attorney.
Woody Allen has filed a $68 million lawsuit against Amazon Studios for allegedly backing out of a multi-film deal — including the shelving of his completed comedy A Rainy Day in New York — due to reports of alleged sexual abuse by the Oscar-winning filmmaker.
The suit, filed Thursday in the Southern District of New York (read via The Hollywood Reporter), claims that Amazon knew of the “25-year-old, baseless allegation” when it signed Allen to a four-picture contract, yet backed out of the deal after Allen’s adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, resurfaced allegations of past abuse against her father in a Los Angeles Times open letter in late 2017 after previously writing about her remembered experience in a 2014 New York Times op-ed.
Allen’s claim indicates Amazon executives Jason Ropell and Matt Newman met with his representatives in the wake of Farrow’s New York Times letter, feeling that Amazon’s reputation had already been tarnished due to past associations with disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and former Amazon Studios head Roy Price. Allen alleges that Amazon’s general counsel, Ajay Patel, proposed delaying the release of Allen’s A Rainy Day in New York — a comedy starring Selena Gomez, Timothée Chalamet, Jude Law, and Elle Fanning that had finished filming in the fall of 2017 — until 2019, though he allegedly sent a notice on June 19, 2018, that the four-film agreement had been terminated and that Amazon would not distribute any of Allen’s planned projects as part of the deal.
In the interim, the suit claims Allen and his associates repeatedly informed the Amazon team that they were working to complete the project in anticipation of Amazon distributing the project; Allen also asserts he began working on his follow-up projects for the streaming giant, including securing work commitments from a “highly regarded cinematographer and a highly regarded production designer” for a project that then set to film in 2018.
The complaint further alleges that Patel’s notice “did not provide any legal or factual basis” for the termination of the deal, and that Amazon’s counsel “merely made the vague statement” that Amazon’s participation in the deal “became ‘impracticable’ because 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 original agreement’s terms.
A representative for Allen provided EW with the following statement from the director’s attorney, John Quinn: “This behavior cannot go unchallenged and that is why we have brought this suit. As a matter of law, the facts here could not be clearer. Amazon has no defense and there is no doubt that Mr. Allen and his production company will prevail in this matter.”
In total, the suit seeks $68 million in minimum guarantee payments from Amazon.
Amazon has no comment.
Allen has long denied Farrow’s accusation that he abused her when she was child, noting that “it was thoroughly investigated by both the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital and New York State Child Welfare…. for many months and [each] independently concluded that no molestation had ever taken place” in a January 2018 statement; He previously addressed Farrow’s accusations in a written response published by The New York Times in early 2014, stressing that he “did not molest Dylan.”
As Farrow’s allegations resurfaced around the time A Rainy Day in New York finished filming, Chalamet and costar Rebecca Hall announced that they had donated their earnings from the project to various charities; Hall’s went to the Time’s Up movement against sexual harassment and abuse, while Chalamet split his between Time’s Up, The LGBT Center in New York, and RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network). Gomez also reportedly made a donation to Time’s Up that an anonymous source close to the musician-actress told PEOPLE “far exceeded” her income from the movie.
- Woody Allen responds to Dylan Farrow claims: ‘I never molested my daughter’
- Jude Law says it’s a ‘terrible shame’ his Woody Allen-directed film was shelved
- Timothée Chalamet donates Woody Allen movie salary to Time’s Up, RAINN
- Selena Gomez made significant donation to Time’s Up that ‘far exceeded’ Woody Allen film salary