Amazon settles $68 million lawsuit with Woody Allen

Amazon settles $68 million lawsuit with Woody Allen
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Amazon has settled a $68 million breach of contract lawsuit with film director Woody Allen, who sued after the company backed out of a four-picture movie deal in June 2018, citing sexual misconduct allegations from the 1990s.

The one-page settlement was filed on November 8 in a New York Federal District Court in Manhattan, saying the lawsuit had been voluntarily dismissed with prejudice, which means that the case cannot be brought back to court. The details of the settlement were not disclosed.

Allen’s lawsuit against Amazon

Allen, 83, sued Amazon in February 2019, alleging that Amazon refused to release his film A Rainy Day in New York and reneged on a promise to produce three other movies.

Amazon severed its ties with Allen in June 2018, citing sexual assault allegations which had recently come back into the public’s attention during the #MeToo movement. Allen’s adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, alleged that she was molested by her father in 1992 when she was seven years old.

Amazon also cited Allen’s “controversial comments” about the Weinstein scandal. In a 2017 interview with the BBC, Allen warned against a “witch-hunt atmosphere” in the #MeToo era, which drew harsh criticism on social media.  

In the lawsuit, Allen said that Amazon’s excuse was based on “a 25-year-old, baseless allegation” and that Amazon had known about the allegations before they entered the deal with him. Allen said that Amazon owed him $68 million in minimum guarantee payments after breaching the contract.

According to Vanity Fair, Allen’s legal team alleged that Amazon generated publicity after making a deal with Allen, but the director did not benefit in return. The suit also claimed that the termination of the contract would limit his potential to work with outside investors.

Explaining their decision, Amazon’s attorneys blamed Allen’s faltering reputation in Hollywood.

“Scores of actors and actresses expressed profound regret for having worked with Allen in the past, and many declared publicly that they would never work with him in the future,” Amazon’s attorneys said. “Allen’s actions and their cascading consequences ensured that Amazon could never possibly receive the benefit of its four-picture agreement.”

Amazon had previously distributed Allen’s film Wonder Wheel and his TV series Crisis in Six Scenes. Allen’s film A Rainy Day in New York secured an international release in September and had so far grossed $11.5 million. It had not secured US distribution.

Sexual misconduct allegations against Allen

The allegations that Allen had molested his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow first came into public attention in 1992. Since then, Farrow had repeatedly spoken out about her experience and Hollywood’s lack of actions against her estranged father. In 2014, Farrow wrote an open letter about the allegations. In 2016, her brother, Ronan Farrow, called out Amazon in a Hollywood Reporter essay about Allen.

After the first Harvey Weinstein story came out in 2017, Dylan wrote another op-ed calling out Hollywood for “sparing” Woody Allen. Since then, she had garnered support from Hollywood stars, including Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah, who vowed to never work with Allen again. Allen has repeatedly denied these allegations and was never criminally charged.