Woody Allen is suing Amazon for breach of contract over financing and distribution of Allen's films.
The multimillion-dollar lawsuit comes as Amazon pushes aggressively into original content and studio work. The company has been signing industry giants to star in, direct and partner on projects for Amazon's Prime Video streaming service.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York, alleges that Amazon terminated without a cause a deal with Allen to "finance and distribute his future films and to be his 'home' for the rest of his career."
The Guardian reported in August of last year that Amazon canceled Allen's movie "A Rainy Day in New York," starring heavyweight actors like Jude Law, Selena Gomez and Timothee Chalamet.
The lawsuit says:
Amazon Content entered into the Allen Film Agreements in an effort to build and promote Defendants' film business through a highly-publicized association with Mr. Allen. In exchange for a grant of licenses to distribute at least four motion pictures written and directed by Mr. Allen (the "Allen Films"), Amazon Content agreed, among other things, to: (i) finance the Allen Films, (ii) make minimum guaranteed payments to Gravier totaling between $68 and $73 million, (iii) pay Gravier additional amounts based on the success of the Allen Films, and (iv) distribute the Allen Films widely.
Allen had already completed "A Rainy Day in New York" — and spent more than $20 million to do so — before Amazon canceled the agreement, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges:
Amazon backed out of the deals, purporting to terminate them without any legal basis for doing so, while knowing that its actions would cause substantial damage to Mr. Allen, Gravier, investors and the artists and crew involved in making the films. Amazon has tried to excuse its action by referencing a 25-year old, baseless allegation against Mr. Allen, but that allegation was already well known to Amazon (and the public) before Amazon entered into four separate deals with Mr. Allen—and, in any event it does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate the contract. There simply was no legitimate ground for Amazon to renege on its promises.
Allen and his lawyers are asking for the remainder of money promised in the agreements, amounting to several million dollars. The Wall Street Journal reports the figure totals $68 million.
"This behavior cannot go unchallenged and that is why we have brought this suit. As a matter of law, the facts here could not be clearer. Amazon has no defense and there is no doubt that Mr. Allen and his production company will prevail in this matter," said John Quinn, Allen's attorney, in a statement.
Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment.
Read the full filing: