It happens to be a very sunny day in New York, and it probably shouldn’t put a cloud in anyone’s sky that Woody Allen’s latest film, A Rainy Day in New York, has been indefinitely shelved by Amazon, despite the popularity of its young stars Selena Gomez and Timothée Chalamet. The news comes after allegations dating back to 1992 that Allen sexually assaulted his then 7-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, reemerged in public discussion in the midst of the #MeToo movement and with a now adult Farrow going public. It also comes after news that Allen has no plans to direct another film anytime soon.
While the case was highly covered at the time, it didn’t slow down Allen’s career in the ’90s. He continued releasing one film a year, every year as he always had. Hollywood wasn’t going to stand in his way. What’s changed?
Well, the public just doesn’t seem interested in seeing anything more out of the man, and, rightfully, Hollywood has decided that maybe his time is up.
Amazon still released Wonder Wheel, a film co-starring Kate Winslet and Justin Timberlake, last year amid the controversy, but the film only generated $15.4 million at the box office, about $10 million below its budget—and the lowest performance of any Allen film in 15 years.
Awkwardly and somewhat untypical for an Allen film, the production of A Rainy Day had grabbed the attention of Generation Z for reasons that had nothing to do with the director.
The film stars Selena Gomez, she of the largest following on Instagram, and Timothée Chalamet, everyone’s new pretend boyfriend (well, at least until Noah Centineo came along). Pictures of the pair kissing on set titillated the young Internet.
Elle Fanning, Jude Law, Suki Waterhouse, Rebecca Hall, and Diego Luna also co-star.
On top of the Allen situation, leaked plot points also caused concerns. Law’s character reportedly flirts with Fanning’s character, who is a 15-year-old pretending to be 21. Relationships between older men and younger women have been a continuing trope in Allen’s filmography, including female characters under the age of 18.
Obvious problematics aside, there’ll still be some who cry “censorship” and what not, and maybe others who just wanted to see Chalamet and Gomez opposite each other onscreen.
The reality though is that the film’s shelving is likely no great loss to cinema. Allen’s career has always been one that prizes quantity, with only occasional bursts of quality.
In recent years he’s also taken a habit of churning out lazy, critically abhorred filmed starring young Hollywood talent.
It’s as if Hollywood agents send their rising stars, the kind who have caught popular interest but still not totally cemented themselves as critical darlings, off to Woody Allen camp. It added a bit of perceived prestige to their IMDb page, and even if the film was a complete and total critical flop, at least the actor could say they still worked with Allen.
In between her stint in the Spider-man franchise and eventually winning an Oscar, Emma Stone did three Woody Allen films in three years. No one really saw them, and those who did didn’t talk about them for long. Café Society, from 2016, counted Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively, two of the Internet’s favorite actresses, among its cast, but it failed to make much of a dent with anyone. Ellen Page, Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, Christina Ricci, and Evan Rachel Wood all found themselves in Allen projects during pivotal moments in their career and didn’t get much to show from it aside from a Woody Allen credit. Miley Cyrus made an entire television series with Allen. The reaction from the wider public? Politely ignoring that it existed, as the public had of so much of Allen’s recent work.
There’s a really strong chance that A Rainy Day was going to be a similar dud, and most of the actors involved have already washed their hands of the project.
Chalamet, Gomez, and Hall have all donated their salaries from the film to charity.