In a dense ruling released Wednesday on a motion by the Jeff Bezos-founded streamer to toss Allen’s February 7-filed complaint, a federal judge in New York firmly sliced off a good portion of the Oscar winner’s claims. “Amazon’s April 3, 2019 partial motion to dismiss is granted,” U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote wrote in a ruling (read it here). “The plaintiffs’ fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth causes of action are dismissed, including the sole claim against Amazon Studios.”
All of which means Allen has essentially lost the ability to go after the Jennifer Salke-run studio over the Roy Price-instigated Multipicture Acquisition Agreement inked with his production company Gravier.
Already back behind the camera on his new Rivkin’s Festival film, the Manhattan filmmaker can still pursue the action on the basis that Amazon wrongfully pulled the plug on individual projects, though he has to prove that was actually the case. That might not be so easy with the backlash that resulted from the new spotlight on the self-described “pariah” director’s alleged sexual misconduct with his daughter Dylan Farrow decades ago.
“The complaint fails to allege an actionable breach of the MAA,” Cote writes in her ruling, rejecting Allen’s notion that he was injured professionally with other financiers by Amazon ending the deal last year. “The plaintiffs identify no breach of a contract that does not relate to an individual film. The MAA provides that any claim for damages with respect to the films licensed through it may only be brought under each film’s SPA.”
“The plaintiffs have brought such claims in their first four causes of action and Amazon Content does not seek dismissal of those claims,” the judge adds of the defendant, which is being represented by Robert Klieger and Hueston Hennigan. “The MAA provides certain benefits to Amazon, such as an exclusive ‘first look’ at Allen’s subsequent literary and visual materials and the right to publicize the parties’ agreements, but the plaintiffs do not allege that they suffered damages from the termination of these provisions.”
“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),” Amazon had declared in its partial dismissal motion filed this spring, clearly resonating with the judge.
Lacking a morals clause, the lucrative deal for Allen was earmarked by former Amazon Studios boss Price after Allen’s panned Crisis In Six Scenes limited series launched on the streamer in 2016. Price was suspended and eventually resigned in late 2017 after an incident of sexual harassment against The Man in the High Castle EP Isa Dick Hackett became public. In June 2018, Amazon dropped its a four-film agreement with Allen and deep-sixed distribution of his long-completed and still unreleased A Rainy Day in New York movie.