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Woody Allen and Amazon resolve lawsuit out of court

on November 11, 2019, 2:08pm

Woody Allen sued Amazon back in February after the retailer/streamer terminated an overall movie deal with the filmmaker. Late last week, Allen formally dropped the case after the parties reached an agreement out of court.

As The Hollywood Reporter has it, paperwork to dismiss the case with prejudice (meaning the plaintiff can’t re-file a similar complaint) was delivered to a New York federal court on Friday night. The exact terms of the settlement were not revealed, though Amazon had previously returned the North American distribution rights for Allen’s latest film, A Rainy Day in New York, back to the filmmaker. The lucrative deal at the center of the case would have netted Allen a minimum of $68 million and $73 million in guaranteed payments, depending on box office results.

Amazon pulled the plug on the four-picture pact following renewed interest in sexual abuse accusations levied against Allen by his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, and his subsequent comments on the #MeToo movement. During the promotional tour behind his first (and only) movie released under the contract, Wonder Wheel, Allen expressed sympathy for Harvey Weinstein, saying he was “sad” for the disgraced producer because “his life is so messed up.” While he added that it was also “very sad and tragic” for Weinstein’s female victims, he expressed hope that the rise of #MeToo wouldn’t create “a witch hunt atmosphere.”

Amazon claimed that these sort of remarks made it difficult for the company to market Wonder Wheel and future productions, effectively devaluing their agreement with Allen. They subsequently shelved A Rainy Day.

In turn, Allen contended that Farrow’s allegations were already public knowledge prior to the deal and that his comments were not grounds for any contract termination. Part of his argument centered on the fact that Amazon teamed with him early in their push to become a true Hollywood powerhouse, a move that attracted attention to the fledgling studio. It was only once they began seeing success, argued Allen, that they decided to cut ties with him.

Prior to reaching the dismissal agreement, the case was shaping up to be a barn burner right from the discovery phase. Amazon planned to establish that many Hollywood creatives refused to work with Allen, damaging the potential of the original deal. The digital giant could have also interviewed Allen’s family about his sexual abuse allegations.

For their part, Allen’s legal team was set to explore the very launch of Amazon Studios and its distribution business to prove the company had benefited from associating with him.

To date, A Rainy Day in New York has seen limited release in 25 markets worldwide, thus far netting $11.6 million. There is still no North American or US distributor for the project.

While Amazon likely would have interviewed a number of big-name Hollywood players in their quest to prove Allen’s toxicity, some have expressed support for the filmmaker. Jeff Goldblum recently said he “would consider working with him again,” a sentiment shared by Scarlett Johansson, who added “I believe him…”

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