At 86, is the legendary Woody Allen about to trade his director’s chair for a rocking chair? That was the implication in a livestreamed Instagram interview on Tuesday, when Allen told Alec Baldwin he wanted to direct “one or two more films” while lamenting the disappearance of the traditional moviegoing experience.
“The thrill is gone,” he told Baldwin. Allen said he planned to direct a film to be shot in Paris later this year, but revealed no specifics about the production. His latest film, Rifkin’s Festival, grossed only $2.3 million, a far cry from what Allen’s films made in decades past. Amazon Studios also recently cancelled an $80 million distribution deal with the filmmaker, who had been embroiled in a scandal involving allegations he had sexually abused his daughter. Dylan Farrow.
For half a century, Woody Allen had been one of the most prolific and creative figures in movie history, directing such classics as Annie Hall, Broadway Danny Rose, Radio Days, Manhattan, and Crimes and Misdemeanors.
In Tuesday’s interview, Allen remarked how changes in moviegoing habits—engendered both by technology and the Covid pandemic–changed his perspective on his role as a director.
“When I started, you’d do a film and it would go into a movie house and movie houses all over the country, and people would come by the hundreds to watch it in big groups on a big screen,” he told Baldwin. “Now, you do a movie and you get a couple of weeks in a movie house, maybe six weeks, four weeks, whatever. And then it goes right to streaming or right to pay-per-view, and people love sitting home with their big screens and watching it on their television sets…It’s not as enjoyable to me.”
Allen had similar misgivings about the commercialization of Broadway, which he likened to a “dreadful mall” that no longer presented the interesting drama he remembers from his youth. “There’s no more Arthur Miller or Tennessee Williams or William Inge or Edward Albee,” he complained.
Commenting on his current routine, Allen told Baldwin, “I don’t have to be cold in the winter or hot in the summer or up at 5 o’clock in the morning, making decisions all day long. I’m home and there’s nothing I can do but exercise, practice the clarinet and write. I was home writing a lot. I wrote a couple of plays. … I thought to myself, ‘What if I didn’t make film? This is a nice way to live.’ And I thought, ‘Well, maybe I’ll make one or two more.’”
The half-hour Instagram interview did not mention any of the controversies surrounding both parties: Allen’s sex-abuse allegations or Baldwin’s involvement with the Rust film, in which a crew member was accidentally killed by a loaded prop gun. In 2021, HBO aired a documentary series titled Allen v. Farrow, which focused on Dylan Farrow’s account of how Allen had allegedly abused her in 1992. In the light of the #MeToo movement, Allen became somewhat of a pariah in the industry, though no criminal charges were ever filed.
Baldwin, who had appeared in three of Allen’s film, came to the director’s defense after Farrow’s allegations. In 2018, he tweeted: “The renunciation of him and his work, no doubt, has some purpose. But it’s unfair and sad to me. I worked w WA 3 times and it was one of the privileges of my career.”