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Amazon Studios is taking its relationship with Woody Allen to the next level.
The streaming giant, according to sources, is in negotiations to fully finance the director’s next film, the untitled Kate Winslet-Jim Belushi starrer. The Hollywood Reporter previously reported that Amazon was negotiating to distribute the movie, which co-stars Justin Timberlake and Juno Temple, but it now appears that the deep-pocketed company is sweetening the offer significantly. An insider pegs the pic’s budget at $25 million.
By opting to have Amazon finance, Allen shut out financiers Ron Chez and Edward Walson as well as longtime producer Stephen Tenenbaum. Chez and Walson have financed the last several Allen movies including Café Society, which is said to have run $10 million over budget at $30 million. Tenenbaum’s relationship with Allen goes back even further than Walson, beginning with 2001’s The Curse of the Jade Scorpion.
Adam Bryan Stern, who is married to Allen’s niece Erika Aronson, is running point on Allen’s career and wanted a change. Stern has been negotiating on behalf of the writer-director. ICM, which reps Allen, also is involved in the dealmaking. Though he’s out as a financier, Walson does retain an option to serve in some producing capacity on future Allen films.
It’s not the first time Allen has ended a long-term arrangement. The auteur partnered with Sony Pictures Classics on a string of films including Midnight in Paris and Blue Jasmine before switching to Amazon for Café Society.
The Amazon-Allen collaboration is off to a promising start. Their first movie together, the Kristen Stewart-Jesse Eisenberg starrer Cafe Society, opened Friday with $355,000 from five theaters in Los Angeles and New York for a screen average of $71,000. That per-screen figure marks a box-office high for 2016 and a personal best for Allen since 2013’s Blue Jasmine.
The new untitled film, set in Coney Island, begins shooting in the fall in New York.
In just a few short years, Amazon has begun to take shape as a studio aiming to both finance and distribute movies in the $20 million-$40 million range. Allen’s latest would join Todd Haynes’ Wonderstuck as a prestige homegrown title for the company, which already has shown muscle in the acquisitions space at festivals, nabbing such in-demand films as Manchester by the Sea at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Amazon, which paid at least $15 million and possibly up to $20 million for distribution rights to Café Society in February, also has a TV project on the horizon with Allen: an untitled Prime series in which he stars with Miley Cyrus and Elaine May.
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