For years, Hollywood has marveled at Woody Allen’s ability to attract A-list talent to his films. Is that still the case? That’s a question that may now be probed in the filmmaker’s $68 million lawsuit against the company for terminating a multi-picture deal.
Allen’s suit alleges “no legitimate ground” to cancel a deal based on an old allegation he sexually abused his daughter, while Amazon responds that its decision was “justified,” pointing to Allen’s comments about the rise of the #MeToo movement, saying these statements made it impossible to promote his films.
On Friday, both sides outlined the case ahead in a joint report to a New York court.
The report includes the investigations that both Allen’s camp and Amazon imagine conducting during the discovery stage of the case.
Allen wants to probe Amazon’s launch and development of its motion picture distribution business. He contends in his suit that Amazon was the beneficiary of an association with him.
Amazon says the subjects of discovery will include Allen’s statements in connection to the #MeToo movement and related allegations of misconduct by the filmmaker. Although not explicitly outlined, this may involve depositions by Allen’s family.
The digital giant adds that it wants discovery on the reported refusal of actors, actresses and other members of the film industry to work with Allen. Amazon may try to build the case that Allen’s performance under the contract was prospectively diminished by comments such as saying the Harvey Weinstein situation was “very sad for everybody involved” and “You don’t want it to lead to a witch-hunt atmosphere.”
In a motion to dismiss several of Allen’s claims, Amazon cited a Vox roundup of those in the entertainment industry who had reportedly declared they would not work with the filmmaker: Judd Apatow, Haley Atwell, Cate Blanchett, Rachel Brosnahan, Michael Cain, Timothee Chalamet, Colin Firth, Greta Gerwig, Kathy Griffin, Rebecca Hall, David Krumholtz, Griffin Newman, Rosie O’Donnell, Ellen Page, Freida Pinto, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard and Mira Sorvino.
Each of these individuals could soon be on the receiving end of a deposition request.
Because Amazon is only requesting the dismissal of certain claims, unless there is a settlement, it appears fairly likely that discovery will happen at some point.
The joint report also goes beyond the dismissal motion by foreshadowing what will almost assuredly be one of Amazon’s prime defenses in the case — that Allen has failed to “mitigate damages.” While not stated in the brief, Amazon may fault the director for not apologizing for comments or for failing to seek out other alternative financing for his unmade films.
Allen and his production company, according to Amazon, “effectively disavow their obligation to mitigate their alleged damages, and instead seek to recover as damages the production costs of films that may never be made and, if made, will be funded by third parties.”