Amazon said it was justified in ending its relationship with award-winning director Woody Allen after several Hollywood stars declared they would no longer work with him due to past allegations that Allen sexually abused his daughter.
The comments, filed in the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, was in response to a federal lawsuit brought by Allen, who has accused Amazon of wrongfully ending production and distribution deals for his films. Allen is seeking more than $68 million in damages and says he did not molest his daughter.
The allegations stem back to 1992, when Dylan Farrow, his adopted daughter with Mia Farrow, accused him of sexually molesting her as a child, which he has denied. At the time, Allen and Farrow were in the midst of a bitter breakup and custody battle. Prosecutors in Connecticut eventually declined to press charges, citing a lack of evidence. But Dylan Farrow, now grown, has renewed the allegations in recent years by publicly denouncing her father in the press and social media.
Allen’s lawsuit notes that Amazon was aware of the past allegations before entering into an agreement with him. Under the deal, Amazon had agreed to support and distribute films theatrically on at least 500 screens in top U.S. markets, Allen’s lawsuit said. One of those films, “A Rainy Day in New York” has yet to air.
“There simply was no legitimate ground for Amazon to renege on its promises,” Allen’s lawsuit said.
But Amazon said in its legal response that Allen himself hurt the promotion for one of the movies, “Wonder Wheel,” with his response to the #MeToo movement, which has provided a platform for people who have suffered sexual abuse to speak out about their experiences.
“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),” Amazon said in court documents.
Jennifer Salke, Amazon Studios’ head, declined to comment on whether she thought the cancellation of the contract could have been handled differently, when asked during a Q&A at the Television Critics Assn.’s winter press tour in Pasadena in February.
“It pre-dated me. … Now that it’s in litigation, I can’t make any comments on it at all,” Salke said at the time.
Amazon is seeking to dismiss four of the eight claims in Allen’s original lawsuit. An attorney representing Allen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.