Amazon Studios has defended cancelling a film deal with Woody Allen, saying his remarks about the #MeToo movement “sabotaged” its efforts to promote his movies.
The 83-year-old director has sued the film and TV distributor, claiming it abandoned a four-picture deal after allegations that he molested his adopted daughter resurfaced.
Allen, who vehemently denies the abuse allegations, is seeking $68m (£52m) from the company, accusing it of breach of contract for refusing to release his film, A Rainy Day In New York.
In response to the lawsuit, Amazon said it was “justified in terminating its relationship with Allen” and asked a judge in New York to dismiss portions of the case.
The firm said that after allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein gave prominence to the #MeToo movement, Allen made “a series of public comments suggesting that he failed to grasp the gravity of the issues”.
Allen expressed sympathy for Weinstein as well as his victims, describing the situation as “very sad for everybody involved”, Amazon said.
The company then quoted Allen as saying he hoped there would not be a “witch-hunt atmosphere… where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself”.
Months later, in January 2018, Allen’s daughter Dylan Farrow again alleged he had abused her as a child and he publicly dismissed those statements as “cynically using” #MeToo for attention, Amazon alleged.
His comments came amid preparations to promote his film Wonder Wheel, “effectively sabotaging those efforts”, the company added.
In its court filing, Amazon said the reaction from the film industry was “swift and damning” and “scores of actors and actresses expressed profound regret” about having worked with Allen.
Oscar nominee Timothee Chalamet announced he would donate his salary from A Rainy Day In New York to sexual assault charities, while Kate Winslet – who starred in Allen’s film Wonder Wheel – admitted she had “bitter regrets” about some of the men she had worked with.
Amazon also highlighted other comments by Allen in which he said he “should be the poster boy for the #MeToo movement” because he had “only (been) accused by one woman in a child custody case”.
The company concluded that Allen’s actions “ensured that Amazon could never possibly receive the benefit of its four-picture agreement” despite having allegedly paid him a $10m advance after agreeing a deal in August 2017.
Allen, a four-time Oscar-winner, has repeatedly denied the abuse allegation by Dylan Farrow and her mother Mia Farrow, who was Allen’s long-time partner and starred in several of his movies.
He was investigated by police but not charged.