Woody Allen suing Amazon for backing out of film deal over ‘baseless’ sexual assault claims

The filmmaker had a four-picture deal with the studio

Woody Allen has filed a $68 million (£52.5 million) lawsuit against Amazon Studios, claiming it backed out of a four-picture deal over “a 25-year-old baseless allegation.”

The filmmaker has accused the company of refusing to release A Rainy Day In New York, scheduled to be his next film, despite it being complete for over six months. According to the lawsuit, Amazon has also reconsidered its deal to produce three other movies with Allen.

“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 suit says, according to Variety. “There simply was no legitimate ground for Amazon to renege on its promises.”

Woody Allen
Woody Allen on the set of ‘A Rainy Day In New York’ with Timothée Chalamet and Selena Gomez

The lawsuit claims that, in December 2017, representatives for Allen met with Amazon executives Jason Ropell and Matt Newman, who said the studio had suffered “reputational harm” due to associations with Harvey Weinstein and misconduct allegations made against former Amazon Studios boss Roy Price. A month later, Amazon’s general counsel, Ajay Patel, suggested delaying A Rainy Day In New York until 2019 – something Allen accepted.

Allen now claims Patel sent a notice in June 2018 terminating his four-picture agreement with the studio, saying that Amazon no longer had any intention to distribute any of the films. Patel allegedly did not provide a reason for terminating the deal, but, later, representatives for Amazon said it was being cancelled due to “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.”

The filmmaker is seeking $68 million in minimum guarantee payments from the four films, as well as damages and legal fees.

Allen was accused of sexual assault by his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, in 1993, when she was seven years old. He has always denied the claims and no charges have been brought against him, with an investigation that was opened at the time being dropped.