For a film that has never seen the light of day, A Rainy Day in New York has been quite the moneymaker. Apparently, its director has high hopes that’ll continue: Woody Allen is suing Amazon for indefinitely delaying the film’s release—a decision that prompted three of its stars, including Selena Gomez and Timothée Chalamet, to donate the salaries to Time’s Up, the anti-harassment initiative.
On Thursday, Allen made it clear that he’s not about to forget about A Rainy Day and demanded $68 million from Amazon for going back on its contract. In other words, Allen is demanding $68 million from Amazon for preventing him from releasing a film about a middle-aged man (played by Jude Law) who has sex with “much younger women,” including his so-called concubine (played by Elle Fanning), who is all of 15.
On a surface level, it’s not difficult to understand why Allen is so upset: Chalamet’s rabid fan base and Gomez’s newfound elusive allure have only strengthened since production began in 2017, making it highly likely that a rom-com starring the pair would be a box office success. What’s more, the film has been ready to go for more than six months now—and, before this road bump, it marked the midway point in Allen’s contract, Amazon having already released two of his films, Café Society (2016) and Wonder Wheel (2017). The latter, however, provided an omen of sorts for the fate of the next three films: Amazon made the last-minute decision to cancel the film’s red carpet at the New York Film Festival, in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations made against their former studio head, Roy Price.
According to the lawsuit, the first sign of difficulties came in December 2017—two months into the post–Harvey Weinstein reckoning—when two Amazon executives met with Allen’s representatives and reportedly explained how their association with Weinstein, along with the misconduct allegations made against Price, had damaged the streaming giant’s reputation. By the following month, Allen had approved a plan to delay the film’s release until 2019, though he now claims that Amazon terminated their five-film deal, sans explanation, that June.
Amazon later cited “supervening events” including allegations about Allen, along with “controversial comments” he’d made and a significant number of stars’ refusals to work with him. The deciding factor, however, seems to have been the public’s long overdue acknowledgement of the sexual assault allegations that Allen’s then 32-year-old daughter first made against the now 83-year-old director when she was 7 years old. (That would be Dylan Farrow—not Allen’s now 48-year-old step-daughter Soon-Yi Previn, whom he’s been married to since 1997.) Allen was investigated, though never charged, and the lawsuit makes the case that he was therefore exonerated, accusing Amazon of trying “to excuse its action by referencing a 25-year-old, baseless allegation against Mr. Allen, but that allegation was already well known to Amazon (and the public) before Amazon entered into four separate deals with Mr. Allen—and, in any event it does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate the contract.”
Meanwhile, Allen’s stars do not appear to share his feelings about the allegations; Chalamet, Gomez, and Rebecca Hall all later donated their salaries from the film to Time’s Up. Chalamet also donated to the New York City LGBT Center and the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, which he announced on Instagram, where he also said that “contractual obligations” were preventing him from speaking out on why he decided to work with Allen.
Gomez also kept mum on that topic, though her mom, Mandy Teefey, was happy to respond in her place: “I had a long talk with her about not working with him and it didn’t click … She makes all her own decisions,” she replied to one of Gomez’s fans on Instagram. (Gomez’s eventual response was much less colorful: It read, in part, “I stepped back and thought, Wow, the universe works in interesting ways.”)
As for Law, well, he told the New York Times that he thought Amazon’s move to shelve the film was “a terrible shame.”
Some of them may have eventually walked it back, but what were Chalamet, Gomez, Hall, Law, and Fanning doing by involving themselves in such a project in the first place? Did they not read that script and think, Hmm, this could be a problem?
Then again, a surprising number of actors—Kate Winslet and Kristen Stewart among them—have never wavered in their support of Allen over the years, as their IMDb pages can attest. It was, in fact, the same month that Amazon first raised the idea of delaying A Rainy Day that Winslet went as far as saying that “on some level, Woody is a woman,” because he “understands the female characters he creates exceptionally well.” (Including, apparently, 15-year-olds who desire to become middle-aged men’s concubines.)