If there were a perfect time for Woody Allen to retire, it might just be right now. The director has made a solid, round total of 50 films, and won four Oscars, not to mention a slew of other awards, in the process. And last month, he shopped around a memoir and failed to find a buyer, which the New York Times eagerly reported. Not exactly surprising, seeing as Allen has finally had to face some consequences for the claim that his daughter Dylan Farrow first made in the early ’90s, accusing him of sexual assault.
And yet, Allen is not going away. Instead, he’s gearing up for this July, when he heads to Spain to make his 51st film. His latest—the working title of which is, um, Wasp 2019—stars a married American couple who gets “caught up in the magic of” the San Sebastian Film Festival on the coast of the Basque region, and fall in love with the “beauty and charm” of both movies and Spain. The husband also falls in love with a “beautiful” Spanish woman, whereas the wife takes up with a “brilliant” French director. “It is a comedy-romance that resolves itself in a funny but romantic way,” Mediapro Studio, which is producing the film, promised in a statement on Tuesday.
If you’re wondering who would sign on to such a film, well, not everyone considers distancing themselves from Allen to be a no-brainer; according to her mom, even Selena Gomez ignored advice not to work with the director, which she did in 2017, on the film A Rainy Day in New York. If the cast of Allen’s next film received similar warnings, they, too, seemed to ignore it: Elena Anaya (Wonder Woman, The Skin I Live In; Louis Garrel (The Dreamers, A Faithful Man); Gina Gershon (Showgirls); and Sergi López (Pan’s Labyrinth) have all signed on to Wasp 2019. So has two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz.
Save for Garrel, who’s 35, all of the above are in their forties or fifties. It’s a fact worth noting, given the fiasco that was Allen’s most recent attempt to release a film—one that just so happened to focus on age. In addition to Gomez and Timothée Chalamet, A Rainy Day in New York also starred Jude Law, a middle-aged man who’s into having sex with “much younger women,” and Elle Fanning, who plays his 15-year-old “concubine.” Two months into the post–Harvey Weinstein reckoning and #MeToo movement, it was not, to say the least, a promising plot.
Eventually, Amazon Studios came to its senses, delaying the film’s release and then canceling it altogether—though it did turn into something else: a massive fundraiser of sorts for the anti-harassment initiative Time’s Up. Allen, in response, sued Amazon Studios this past February, demanding $68 million for breaking their contract agreeing to release four of Allen’s films.
Amazon may have washed its hands of the director, but Mediapro, which has been working with Allen for 14 years, isn’t finished with him just yet. Wasp 2019 will mark his fourth collaboration with the Spanish production company, as well as his fourth with the Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, who has worked on films such as Apocalypse Now. From the sound of it, the cast and crew will soon be one big, happy family: Wallace Shawn, who has worked with Allen on films like Manhattan, will also join them on set. Allen will be among friends.
But the reality is that Allen’s circle extends far past the milieu of Wasp 2019. Jude Law has previously lamented the fate of A Rainy Day, and a surprising number of other A-list actors have stood by Allen’s side. (Javier Bardem has even condemned what he described as the “public lynching” of the director.) According to the New York Times, Allen retains a strong fan base in Europe. And, judging from the past month, that certainly does seem to be the case: Italy, Germany, and Austria are now all set to release A Rainy Day later this year.
In comparison, the new crop of memes about Allen’s eventual death don’t exactly stand a chance. Still, there’s some hope; unless Allen suddenly renounced his long-standing love of very young starlets, or simply has yet to announce the rest of the main cast, it’s possible that he simply failed to find a young, influential newcomer willing to step into Gomez or Miley Cyrus’s shoes.
Still, it seems unlikely that—at least in Europe—Wasp 2019 will meet the same fate as A Rainy Day. And if it does, Allen will no doubt continue to do his best to get around it. When no major studio stepped up to the plate, Allen simply released the trailer for A Rainy Day on his own Facebook page just last month.