Amazon said in a new court filing Wednesday that it ended a deal to finance and distribute films by Woody Allen because his “actions and their cascading consequences” when confronted with sexual abuse allegations destroyed any benefit the tech giant could get from working with the infamous director.
The document represents Amazon’s first major response to a $68 million lawsuit filed by the director in February. Amazon argued in the filing it was “justified” in terminating the deal with Allen and seeks to get some, but not all of Allen’s claims dismissed.
The court filing is replete with references to the broader #MeToo Movement. Amazon grounded its decision to terminate the deal in Allen’s reactions to sexual misconduct and abuse allegations against himself and film producer Harvey Weinstein. Allen in early 2018 dismissed renewed claims from his daughter Dylan Farrow that he sexually abused her when she was a child.
Amazon alleged those statements, including that Farrow was “cynically using” #MeToo for attention, sabotaged efforts to promote the film Wonder Wheel. The statements did lasting damage as well, as “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,” according to Amazon’s filing.
“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),” according to the new filing. “As a result, Amazon was justified in terminating its relationship with Allen, and Plaintiffs ultimately will not recover any of the relief they seek.”
Allen’s statements and the fallout came just a few months after Amazon Studios chief Roy Price resigned from the company amid sexual harassment allegations.
Allen alleged in the lawsuit that Amazon backed out of the deal over a “25-year-old baseless accusation.” Allen is seeking $68 million in minimum guarantee payments from the four films in the deal with Amazon, in addition to damages and attorneys fees.
Amazon did not address Allen’s breach of contract claims in the filing and instead went after other allegations that it said are duplicative.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, called Amazon a “technology giant but Hollywood novice.” Amazon sought to capitalize on Allen’s fame to develop its “nascent entertainment studio,” according to the suit, with a deal to “finance and distribute his future films and to be his ‘home’ for the rest of his career.”
Here is the full response from Amazon: