Amazon defends dropping Woody Allen film deal amid #MeToo controversy

The director is suing the studio for cancelling a four-film deal

Amazon has defended cancelling its film deal with Woody Allen after his controversial comments about the #MeToo movement.

The director had signed a four-picture deal with the studio, which included the Selena Gomez and Timothée Chalamet film A Rainy Day In New York. That film, and the three others in the deal, has now been shelved.

Allen is suing Amazon, saying it reneged on the deal after allegations that he molested his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow when she was a child resurfaced. He has always denied the claims against him and was investigated by police at the time but not charged. He is seeking $68 million (£52 million) in the lawsuit, claiming Amazon has made a breach of contract for refusing to release A Rainy Day In New York.

Amazon has now asked a judge in New York to dismiss some parts of the case, saying it was “justified in terminating its relationship with Allen.” It pointed to comments the director made after the allegations against Harvey Weinstein were made public, saying they suggested “that he failed to grasp the gravity of the issues.”

Allen called the situation “very sad for everybody involved”, expressing sympathy for both Weinstein and his victims. Amazon also noted that he spoke about not wanting a “witch-hunt atmosphere” to exist, “where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.”

He also accused Farrow of “cynically using #MeToo for attention” after she reiterated her claims that he had abused her. Allen made the comments while promoting Wonder Wheel, with Amazon saying his remarks “effectively sabotag[ed] those efforts.” 

According to court documents, the studio called the reaction to Allen’s comments from the film industry “swift and damning” with “scores of actors and actresses express[ing] profound regret” over having worked with him. Chalamet and Kate Winslet, the latter of whom starred in Wonder Wheel, were among them.

The studio decided that the director’s remarks “ensured that Amazon could never possibly receive the benefit of its four-picture agreement”, despite having reportedly paid a $10 million (£7.7 million) advance to him when the deal was agreed in August 2017.

A Rainy Day In New York reportedly cost Amazon $25 million (£19 million) to make. Chalamet and Gomez both pledged to donate their salaries from the film to charities including Time’s Up and RAINN.