In its first response to a lawsuit from writer-director Woody Allen, Amazon Studios said Wednesday that Allen’s comments dismissing the Me Too movement and his denial of sexual abuse allegations “justified” its decision to cancel a distribution deal for his most recent movies.
“Allen made a series of public comments suggesting that he failed to grasp the gravity of the issues or the implications for his own career,” Amazon’s lawyers said in a federal court filing.
The director, 83, has repeatedly denied an allegation from Dylan Farrow, his adopted daughter, that he sexually abused her in 1992 when she was 7 years old. He has also criticized the broader Me Too movement.
While promoting his 2017 film “Wonder Wheel” — released shortly after The New York Times and The New Yorker published bombshell reports on disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, catalyzing the Me Too movement — Allen expressed sympathy for Weinstein, saying he was “sad for Harvey that [his] life is so messed up.”
Allen also lamented what he called a “witch-hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.”
Farrow gave an interview to “CBS This Morning” in early 2018, renewing attention on her allegation. Allen attacked her by claiming she was “cynically using” the Me Too movement for personal gain.
That summer, Amazon Studios terminated a deal to release four more movies from Allen, shelving his yet-to-be-released film “A Rainy Day in New York,” shot in 2017, as well as three other projects slated for 2018, 2019 and 2020.
In February, the director sued Amazon for $68 million in damages from the breach of contract.
Amazon said Wednesday that it had no choice but to cancel the deal, arguing that Allen’s comments generated negative publicity, “effectively sabotaging” the studio’s efforts to promote and distribute “Wonder Wheel.”
“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 the court 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.”
Despite Farrow’s sexual abuse allegations — and Allen’s own admission that he is seen as “a pariah” in the movie industry — the director continues to receive support and financing for his movies. He is currently preparing to direct a new film in Spain this summer.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.