Amazon Studios boss Jennifer Salke sidestepped addressing Woody Allen’s $68 million lawsuit against the streamer at the TCA in February, but the Jeff Bezos-founded company’s lawyers were pretty blunt today.
While not calling for a full dismissal of the self-described “pariah” director’s big bucks February 7th filed complaint over the cancellation of his Roy Price instigated multi-film deal with Amazon yet, attorneys Robert Klieger and his Hueston Hennigan LLP colleagues are determined to cripple the matter ASAP.
“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),” asserts the defendants’ motion to dismiss the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth causes of action in Allen’s nearly two month old suit.
After revitalized accusations of Allen’s alleged decades old sexual misconduct with his daughter Dylan Farrow attracted wide spread attention in 2018, Amazon dropped its a four-film agreement with the Oscar winner and deep-sixed distribution of the long-completed and shelved movie A Rainy Day in New York.
“As a result, Amazon was justified in terminating its relationship with Allen, and Plaintiffs ultimately will not recover any of the relief they seek,” today’s federal court filed response (read it here) to Allen’s action stated. “At this stage, however, Amazon moves only to dismiss four of Plaintiffs’ causes of action that are duplicative of their central breach claims or otherwise fail as a matter of law.”
Before having to resign from Amazon in October 2017 over allegations of sexual harassment that became public, Price had strongly pursued Allen to pin iconic names to the new streamer. Despite the premiere of the panned Crisis In Six Scenes limited series in 2016 and the release of Cafe Society, Allen and Amazon inked a new agreement in 2017 that would have seen each of his movies snag a minimum guarantee of $9 million. The agreement also assured the Sleeper helmer that his new films would be played on at least 500 screens across America with emphasis on major markets like his home of NYC in a 90-day window.
The loss of that deal in June 2018 and failed subsequent efforts to find a settlement of sorts privately clearly got under Allen’s skin, as he made apparent in his filing earlier this year.
“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,” declared Allen’s jury trial seeking action.
CBS board member Klieger hasn’t touched the breach of contract claims in Allen’s filing, yet. But clearly the hope is to hobble the whole thing to the point where it can only stumble forward at best.