Woody Allen‘s $68 million suit against Amazon, which he filed against the streamer for terminating his lucrative film deal, has been dealt a setback. On Wednesday, a judge dismissed several of Allen’s claims.
Because of the ruling, Allen cannot sue over a contract that covered multiple films. Instead, he will have to show that Amazon canceled deals illegitimately for individual movies.
In the suit, Allen said that Amazon had “no legitimate ground” to nix their deal, while Amazon said its decision was in fact “justified,” pointing to Allen’s dismissive comments in response to the #MeToo movement. Allen had argued that Amazon also canceled the deal over resurfaced claims that he sexually abused his adopted daughter decades ago, claims he has denied, and said Amazon was aware of.
Amazon, meanwhile, argued that Allen’s response to the #MeToo movement made promoting his films untenable.
A JUDGE RULES
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote wrote: “The complaint fails to allege an actionable breach of the MAA. 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 single picture agreement. The plaintiffs have brought such claims in their first four causes of action and Amazon Content does not seek dismissal of those claims. 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.”
In other words, although Allen will seek to hold Amazon liable for nixing the contract on four films, the judge does not believe that the termination of the larger deal stymied his ability to meet obligations to investors and distributors.
Regarding the breach of good faith, the judge wrote: “None of these promises are, in fact, distinct from the contractual obligations laid out in the parties’ contracts. The plaintiffs essentially claim that Amazon is bound by an implied promise to abide by the terms of the MAA…. As such, the claim for breach of the implied covenant under the MAA is redundant of the plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim.”
A joint pretrial motion is set for March 6, 2020. Discovery, the judge ruled, must be completed by November 1st.