Will this be the basis for Woody Allen’s next piece? His lawsuit against Amazon has all the trademarks of one of his films. A quirky central figure fighting against a giant enemy. Throw in a dose of family drama and the Oscars promise to pour in.
That is if he can get the film made. After Amazon cut ties and ended the “First look” contract with him, Allen decided to sue the internet giant. In his claim, the director said his career was irreparably harmed by Amazon’s decision. He requested $68 million, which was the exact amount of the remainder of his contract.
Theoretically, Amazon could have easily settled the lawsuit and walked away from it altogether. Why fight the lawsuit? Simply put, they felt they were right to cancel the contract. According to them, staying in business with Allen would have made it difficult to attract celebrities to work with them.
To that end stars like Timothee Chalamet, Mira Sorvino, and Rachel Brosnahan are among those who have vowed not to work with Allen again. This put the fledgling studio in the unenviable position of having to decide between working with the Oscar-winning filmmaker and alienating Hollywood’s A-list. Or cutting ties and potentially losing millions of dollars. They chose the former.
Woody Allen says that the allegations cited by Amazon are not new. Further, he says the conglomerate knew going into the deal with him that he carried the baggage and therefore are not justified in breaking the contract.
Bolstering his argument is the fact that the likes of Alec Baldwin and Diane Keaton want to keep working with him. While not the box office draws they once were, they are still Hollywood royalty and are acclaimed actors. Which is an important selling point for many studios.
Also, he does have a point about the #MeToo allegations following him for a large part of his career. However, he fails to disclose the deal with signed under another regime.
History of The Allegations
An Allen family feud has been raging for more than two decades now. Dylan Farrow, Woody Allen’s daughter with Mia Farrow, has alleged that her father touched her inappropriately. Ronan and Mia Farrow have stood by Dylan as she has relived the allegation and had them tried in the eyes of the public.
Woody Allen has long denied the allegations against him. His wife, Soon-Yi, was profiled and she also proclaimed his innocence. Allen’s son also took to defending him, insisting that his sister had false memories.
This drama was boiling when former Amazon Studios head Roy Price signed the deal with Allen. A few things happened that put the deal in jeopardy right after. Allen’s Amazon series, Crisis in Six Scenes, was a critical and commercial flop. 2017’s Wonder Wheel followed and was likewise a massive disappointment.
Price was also let go from the studio after his own #MeToo allegations came to light, Jennifer Salke took over and began shifting the focus of the studio. Including canceling the contract.
After filing the lawsuit, many thought Allen would be risking his career. It was reported he was having a hard time selling his memoir in light of his lawsuit against Amazon. It seemed as though the worst fears were coming to fruition.
U.S District Court Judge Denise Cote wrote in part: “The plaintiffs’ fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth causes of action are dismissed, including the sole claim against Amazon Studios.” In her comments, she said that Allen had failed to prove the cancellation of his Amazon deal damaged his career. “The plaintiffs identify no breach of a contract that does not relate to an individual film. The MAA provides that any claim for damages with respect to the films licensed through it may only be brought under each film’s SPA.”
The Judge also goes on to say they did prove that there might be a case with individual movies but not the overall deal. Cote wrote: “The plaintiffs have brought such claims in their first four causes of action and Amazon Content does not seek dismissal of those claims.”
However, she says Amazon suffered as well. “The MAA provides certain benefits to Amazon, such as an exclusive ‘first look’ at Allen’s subsequent literary and visual materials and the right to publicize the parties’ agreements, but the plaintiffs do not allege that they suffered damages from the termination of these provisions.” The Judge continued in her statement: “Understood in the broader context, Allen’s actions and their cascading consequences ensured that Amazon could never possibly receive the benefit of its four-picture agreement (despite already having paid Allen a $10 million advance upon signing).”
Neither Allen nor Amazon had a comment on the Judge’s ruling.