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Amazon Seeks to Rebut Woody Allen Lawsuit

Amazon has filed a limited rebuttal to a lawsuit from Woody Allen, who has accused the streaming service of dropping him due to the #MeToo movement.

Amazon’s lawyers argue that Allen has become a “pariah” in the film industry. But the motion to dismiss, filed Tuesday in federal court in New York, seeks to throw out only four of Allen’s eight claims, leaving the heart of his complaint untouched.

Amazon distributed Allen’s last two films, “Cafe Society” and “Wonder Wheel,” establishing the streamer as a significant player in the distribution world. In 2017, under the stewardship of Roy Price, Amazon agreed to a four-picture deal with Allen, under which the director was to receive minimum guarantees of at least $68 million, according to the suit.

The first film under the agreement, “A Rainy Day in New York,” was completed in 2018. But by that point, the #MeToo movement was underway, leading to a reconsideration of allegations that Allen had raped his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, in 1992. The allegation has resurfaced periodically since then, but until last year it had little apparent effect on Allen’s career.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, and allegations against dozens of other men including Price, actors began to distance themselves from Allen. Amazon decided to put “A Rainy Day in New York” on the shelf, and ultimately indicated that it would not release the film.

In his complaint, Allen calls the rape claim “a 25-year old, baseless allegation” and notes that it was known to Amazon well before Amazon agreed to the four-picture deal.

Amazon has also refused to produce the other three pictures called for under the agreement.

In its motion to dismiss, Amazon cites an interview Allen gave to Rolling Stone in October 2017, in which he said that the Weinstein scandal was “very sad for everybody involved.”

“You also don’t want it to lead to 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,” Allen continued. “That’s not right either.”

Allen later clarified the remarks, saying that Weinstein was “a sad, sick man.”

Amazon contends that those comments showed that Allen “failed to grasp the gravity of the issues or the implications for his own career.” Amazon argues that the comments had a cascading effect that made it impossible for the streamer to capitalize on the four-picture deal.

“As a result, Amazon was justified in terminating its relationship with Allen, and Plaintiffs ultimately will not recover any of the relief they seek,” Amazon’s lawyers wrote.

The filing does not claim that Allen’s remarks constituted a breach of their agreement. The motion asked the court only to dismiss four counts because they “are duplicative of their central breach claims or otherwise fail as a matter of law.”

Amazon is represented by Robert N. Klieger of Hueston Hennigan LLP. Allen is represented by Julia M. Beskin, Donald J. Reinhard, II, John B. Quinn, and Gary E. Gans of Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP.

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