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Amazon Studios Returns Distribution Rights of Woody Allen's Movie Over #MeToo Allegations

A Rainy Day in New York was mired in a legal issue between Woody Allen and his former creative partners at Amazon, but now the studio has returned the film's rights to the filmmaker.

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Updated:May 21, 2019, 7:20 PM IST
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Amazon Studios Returns Distribution Rights of Woody Allen's Movie Over #MeToo Allegations
Image: Reuters Pictures
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Amazon Studios has returned the domestic rights to film A Rainy Day in New York back to its director and producer Woody Allen. The studio had shelved the film indefinitely after allegations of sexual abuse against Allen grabbed attention in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Now, Amazon has returned the rights to Allen, reports variety.com. Allen caused widespread confusion last week when he released a trailer for his Elle Fanning and Timothee Chalamet-starring drama on his Facebook page, saying it was "coming soon".

The film had been stuck in the mire of litigation with his former creative partners at Amazon, but Allen is now free to proceed with any domestic release elsewhere as he sees fit, said a source close to the project.

A Rainy Day in New York already has international distribution commitments from France's Contracorriente Films (September 18), Italy's Lucky Red (October 3) and Germany's Filmwelt/NFP (this year). Germany was pre-sold in 2017 by FilmNation and Allen's Gravier Productions secured France and Italy, and will handle sales in the rest of the world and now the US.

The film recently screened for at least one American indie distributor as a prospective acquisition, but another source close to the project said the showing was done as a "professional courtesy" rather than an earnest business proposition.

Which American company will now possibly step up to release the film?

Allen and Amazon are locked in a legal battle regarding his overall deal, a reported $80 million multi-project agreement, which stalled when misconduct accusations against the director resurfaced in the #MeToo era.

"The return of the film rights does not impact the current legal battle," another source said told variety.com. "This is death, publicity-wise," said one top film distribution chief on potentially acquiring the movie.

While Allen has long been public about what he calls "25-year-old baseless" accusations of sexual abuse from his daughter Dylan Farrow, the #MeToo movement has galvanised Hollywood to hear and support victims.

Further complicating matters is the fact that two of the film's cast members -- Chalamet and Rebecca Hall -- donated their salaries from the production to charities like the Time's Up legal defence fund. The pair publicly expressed regret over having worked with Allen.

"Talent wants to distance themselves as far as possible from this. None of them are likely to promote it," said the executive.

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