Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

Woody Allen sues Amazon for $68 million for breaching film contract

The director claims the studio is refusing to distribute his latest film following "baseless" accusations of abuse

Director Woody Allen is likely to make his next film in Spain. EPA
Director Woody Allen is likely to make his next film in Spain. EPA

Filmmaker Woody Allen has filed a $68 million (Dh249 million) suit against Amazon for breach of contract, accusing the streaming giant of cancelling a film deal because of a "baseless" decades-old allegation that he sexually abused his daughter.

Allen says Amazon sought to terminate the deal in June, and has since refused to pay him $9 million (Dh33 million) in financing for his latest film, A Rainy Day in New York, his lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan claim.

That film was one of several to be produced with the Oscar-winning director under a series of agreements reached after Allen made the Crisis in Six Scenes programme for Amazon, which was at the time a new content provider.

He is seeking that $9 million along with minimum guarantees owed him for three other films, totalling "in excess of $68,000,000", according to a complaint filed on Thursday in federal court in New York.

In addition to the first $9 million, the contract provided for minimum inputs of another $9 million, $25 million (Dh91.8 million) and another $25 million for the other three films, planned for 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively. That totals $68 million.

Allen says Amazon told him the deal had become "impracticable" because of "supervening events, including renewed allegations against Mr Allen, his own controversial comments" and the refusal of actors to work with him.

The four-time Oscar-winning director said he asked for details of these "accusations" and "statements," to no avail.

Allen claims Amazon's unilateral termination of the contract forced him and his production company Gravier Productions to cancel "highly recognised individuals" whom he had hired.

Charges first date back decades

Allen has been accused of molesting Dylan Farrow, his adopted daughter, in the early 1990s.

He was cleared of the charges, first levelled by his then-partner Mia Farrow, after two separate investigations, and has steadfastly denied the abuse. But Dylan, now an adult, maintains she was molested.

Mia Farrow with former partner Woody Allen in 'Zelig'. Courtesy Orion
Mia Farrow with former partner Woody Allen in 'Zelig' (1983). Courtesy Orion

Last June, the same month that Amazon apparently terminated his contract, Allen backed the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment - and said he should be its poster boy.

"I've worked in movies for 50 years, I've worked with hundreds of actresses, and not a single one has ever suggested any kind of impropriety at all," he said in an interview with Argentina's Canal 13 television network.

"I - who was only accused by one woman in a child custody case, which was looked at and proven to be untrue - I get lumped in with these people."

Hollywood reaction

In recent months, a string of actors who have worked with Allen have said they would no longer work with him.

Others, however, from Javier Bardem to Alec Baldwin, think authorities never established the authenticity of the charges against him.

Amazon did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Amazon's relationship with Woody Allen began with Cafe Society (2016), to which the studio had purchased the rights, before producing and distributing Wonder Wheel (2017), then committing to four additional films.

Updated: February 9, 2019 09:45 AM