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Woody Allen sues Amazon, says studio reneged on film deals

Woody Allen sues Amazon, says studio reneged on film deals
Director Woody Allen, speaking at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival in 2010, is suing Amazon Studios for breach of contract. (Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP/Getty Images)

Director Woody Allen on Thursday sued Amazon Studios for breach of contract, alleging the e-commerce giant wrongfully ended its production and distribution deals with the filmmaker.

Allen and his company Gravier Productions allege that Amazon reneged on an agreement to support and distribute films theatrically in at least 500 screens in top U.S. markets, according to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday in the Southern District of New York. Allen is seeking more than $68 million in damages.

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Amazon backed out of the agreement last year, citing the resurfacing of past abuse allegations against Allen in the wake of the #MeToo movement. In 1992, Dylan Farrow, his adopted daughter with Mia Farrow, accused him of sexually molesting her as a child, which he has denied. His lawsuit points out that Amazon was aware of these allegations before entering into an agreement with him.

“There simply was no legitimate ground for Amazon to renege on its promises,” the lawsuit said.

Roy Price, former head of Amazon Studios, was instrumental in bringing Allen’s work into the company in a much-touted deal announced in 2015. Price resigned from Amazon two years later after he was accused of sexually harassing a television producer.

Amazon Studios declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Allen’s latest movie, "A Rainy Day in New York," was originally slated to be released in 2018, but the parties agreed to push the date back to 2019 following the sexual misconduct allegations surrounding Price and disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein.

“A Rainy Day” was to have been Allen’s third movie with Amazon in three years.

But Amazon announced in June 2018 it was backing out of its partnership with Allen. Amazon's counsel cited “supervening events, including renewed allegations against Mr. Allen, his own controversial comments, and the increasing refusal of top talent to work with or be associated with him in any way, all of which have frustrated the purpose of the agreement," the lawsuit said.

When the allegations against Allen surfaced in 1992 the couple was in the midst of a bitter breakup and custody battle. Prosecutors in Connecticut eventually declined to press charges, citing a lack of evidence. But Allen’s daughter, now grown, has renewed the allegations in recent years by publicly denouncing her adoptive father in the press and social media.

Another child, Moses Farrow, has defended Allen, writing in May that he was present at the time the event was alleged to have occurred and that it couldn’t have happened. Their brother, journalist Ronan Farrow, has publicly criticized Allen and stands by Dylan.

A critically acclaimed director, Allen has made more than 50 films, including popular movies like "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan." He has been nominated for 24 Academy Awards and won three for “Annie Hall,” including best picture.

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