New Movies From Woody Allen And Roman Polanski Having Trouble Getting U.S. Distribution

Director Roman Polanski (Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby) hasn't exactly been the toast of Hollywood since he fled the country back in 1978, but that hasn't stopped major studios from releasing many of his films in the United States. But the studios seem to have had a bit of an awakening in the #MeToo era, because both Polanski and director Woody Allen (Manhattan, Annie Hall) are struggling to find companies who will distribute their newest films in the U.S.

Last week, Allen debuted the trailer for his new romance movie A Rainy Day in New York on his Facebook page – a far cry from the marketing push he expected when he signed a four-picture deal with Amazon in 2017. (The company returned the domestic rights to Allen, but is still engaged in a legal battle with him about the terms of their deal.) The film has secured some distribution in a few countries overseas, but seems destined for a VOD release at best in the States.

"I don't know who would want to live in the world of these controversies and have to explain their involvement with these projects," a one high-ranking industry strategist told Vanity Fair. "Who would want to spend their time on that?"

Polanski's new movie, An Officer and a Spy, is a 19th-century spy thriller which features Oscar winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist) in the lead role. Hollywood doesn't appear interested in picking up that movie, either. Howard Cohen, the president of small distribution company Roadside Attractions, told VF that he might buy Polanski's movie:

"I think we would consider it. Though I'm not even sure how I personally feel. People have been releasing his films for years. Now, we are looking at it through a different lens, with good reason. We have to search our souls if it's the right thing to do. What does it mean to release this movie? I don't think that's a settled question even in my mind."

In 1977, Polanski was arrested for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. He denied the charge, but ended up pleading guilty to "unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor." When he heard a rumor that the judge overseeing his case was planning to sentence him to fifty years in prison, Polanski skipped his court session and fled the country, spending the ensuing years living as a free man in France and Switzerland, evading the grasp of the U.S. authorities. (He's still wanted for the crime in the States.)

Allen, meanwhile, was accused of molesting his daughter Dylan Farrow in the early 1990s. "For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn't like," Farrow wrote in a 2014 New York Times piece. "These things happened so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal." A lengthy investigation was conducted at the time of the alleged incident, but prosecutors elected not to charge Allen with a crime. Dylan's brother Ronan, who helped kick off the #MeToo movement by uncovering the Harvey Weinstein story, believes his sister's account and said that their father "distorted the legal process" to avoid being charged.

Though audiences won't be seeing Allen or Polanski's movies in U.S. theaters any time soon, they will see a fictionalized version of Polanski himself in just a few months – actor Rafal Zawierucha plays him in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which hits theaters on July 26, 2019.