Amazon and Woody Allen Finally Settle Breach of Contract Lawsuit for $68 Million; But Who’s the Real Winner?

Published on November 11, 2019

The long-winded legal battle between Amazon and four-time Oscar winner and Hollywood filmmaker, Woody Allen, has finally come to an end after nine months with Allen walking away with $68 million. Allen, 83, is best known for his work and award for “best director” for the 1977 film, “Annie Hall.”

Back in February, Allen filed his $68 million lawsuit after resurfaced allegations arose about him molesting his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow in 1992.

Grit Daily reviewed the court documents through the LexisNexis CourtLink system, which encompasses the entire PACER network. For purposes of transparency, I currently work at LexisNexis and have access to the CourtLink product.

The case is 1:19cv1169, Gravier Productions, Inc. Et Al V. Amazon Content Services, Llc Et Al, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on February 7, 2019.

These “baseless” accusations according to Allen, in addition to his dubious remarks surrounding the #MeToo movement, led Amazon to make the decision to terminate and cancel its four-picture production and distribution agreement and refusing to distribute “A Rainy Day in New York,” a film he had finished. The film has been released outside of the United States, but not yet domestically.

However, Amazon previously responded to Allen’s claims that it breached the agreement because of Allen’s “insensitive remarks” about the #MeToo movement. The streaming platform’s attorney, Robert Klieger said that Allen’s alleged remarks hurt the project, which starred Timothée Chalamet, Selena Gomez, Elle Fanning, Jude Law, and Rebecca Haw—making the film even more difficult to promote.

In August, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote, dismissed several of Allen’s claims, ruling that Allen’s legal team could not sue the streaming platform for breaching the overall multipicture acquisition agreement, but rather, make a case based on the individual films part of the contract.

Late Friday night, the plaintiff, Gravier Productions, Inc. filed its “Stipulation of Voluntary Dismissal,” notifying the federal court and Amazon notified the Manhattan federal court that the lawsuit was being voluntarily dismissed “without prejudice,” as the parties had reached a settlement agreement.

Source: LexisNexis CourtLink via PACER

Under the law, a court case that is dismissed ‘without prejudice’ means that there’s still a potential for the case to be brought back to court, if necessary. In contrast, a case dismissed ‘with prejudice,’ means that it’s over and done with and cannot be brought back to court, regardless.

Unfortunately, Allen joins a list of other recognized Hollywood figures, most recently Roman Polanski, who have been accused of sexual assault and related crimes, which have negatively impacted their public perception.

Farrow has long alleged that Allen sexually molested her when she was a child, and in the wake of the #MeToo movement in late 2017, Farrow repeated her claims and even went so far as to write op-eds about Hollywood’s lack of disciplinary action against Allen.

Stars such as Oprah and Shonda Rhimes have come to support Farrow, despite Allen repeatedly denying all claims. Allen has never been criminally charged.

From the court’s perspective, there’s always a very strong presumption that we’re going to honor the terms of a contract,” Attorney Jonathan Bender told Vanity Fair. These are multi-million-dollar contracts, they were heavily negotiated by teams of lawyers—you stand by it. And if you don’t, then you pay the price.

For Amazon, the price—however many millions it could be, when all is said and done—might be worth it in order for the company to distance itself from a collaborator whose reputation has become radioactive in certain circles.

You’re shooting yourself in the foot by continuing this relationship,” Bender said, adding that, in the court of public opinion, audiences might be applauding the streamer for taking a strong stance. “From Amazon’s perspective, even if they write a big check, they can be cast as the winner.

Attorney Jonathan Bender

Andrew "Drew" Rossow is a former contract editor at Grit Daily.

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