Woody Allen Makes More Money Suing American Apparel Than Making Movies

Woody Allen found a new way to make ends meet other than that zany “sell movie tickets to people” scheme: He waited until American Apparel made an unauthorized billboard using his graven image, then sued the crap out of them for $10 million and settled for half the amount.

Allen’s $5 million haul is better than the domestic box office gross of four of his last seven movies.

[American Apparel’s Dov] Charney protested in his defence that the billboards had only been up for a week in a few streets of New York and Los Angeles. He insisted that he had no commercial ambitions in putting up the posters but rather had wanted to make a social comment about the similarity in the way that both he and Allen had been treated at the hands of the media.

Hmm. Only up for a week in New York and Los Angeles, huh? Sounds like the Cassandra’s Dream theatrical run.

We kid because we love you, Wood-man. P-p-p-please don’t send your lawyers after us, k?

Woody Allen reaches $5m settlement with head of American Apparel [Guardian, via The Awl]


Edit Your Comment

  1. takes_so_little says:

    I don’t get why they thought using a celebrity in an ad campaign without his knowlege/consent would be OK. I work in the public sector, so someone in private business, marketing, anything like that please explain why they thought they could guerrilla-recruit a celebrity spokesperson. Don’t celebs usually get paid big bucks for this kind of thing?

    • Chris Glemaud says:

      @takes_so_little: I guess he thought no one would recognize him. You see that beard? It’s very mysterious.

    • itmustbeken says:

      @takes_so_little: I work in advertising/marketing/whoring and this strategy is called a few different names. The one i’m familiar with is called ‘Get’. You do something you know is not right (use an image, song, video) and everyone ‘gets’ something. You get publicity, the copyright holder gets some settlement money (usually less than you would have had to pay them originally AND none of their pesky approvals of usage).

      In this case, AA GOT bent over and done nasty. Couldn’t have happened to nicer people. Way to go Woody!

  2. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    He insisted that he had no commercial ambitions in putting up the posters…

    Oh please. Is anyone buying that?

    If the goal was compare yourself to Woody Allen, why did you put the name of the company on the billboard instead? OK, the billboard makes no sense as an ad but you can’t claim it’s anything else since the company name is on it.

  3. wheresmymind says:

    “He insisted that he had no commercial ambitions in putting up the posters but rather had wanted to make a social comment about the similarity in the way that both he and Allen had been treated at the hands of the media.”
    Righttt. I’m sure the decision to put his company’s logo on the poster had nothing to do with “commercial ambitions.”

  4. nakedscience says:

    Wow that was a dumb move on AA’s part.

  5. takes_so_little says:

    If all you wanted to do was make a social statement, write an op ed in the paper. As soon as you buy a BILLBOARD, it’s an ad.

  6. csdiego says:

    A pox on both their houses.

  7. bbagdan says:

    Actually, this might be an ingenious method to employ an unwilling celebrity in your ad campaign. they get paid either way, and your ad gets more exposure than it would have without the scandal.

  8. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    – Scumbag’s company gets the beejezes sued out of them: Check
    – Woody Allen is too busy to make movies: Check.

    This is clearly a case where America wins.

    Let’s hope Woody sues Joe Francis next.

  9. takes_so_little says:

    @floraposte: I wasn’t accusing AA of bigotry, oy!

  10. BenderRodriguez says:

    Does anybody here read Hebrew? What does it say at the top of the billboard?

    • Beastage says:


      It is hebrew letters but the language is Yiddish

      means The Holy Rabbi or The Saint Rabbi

      btw guys it is nice you specifically mention his domestic gross, but he usually does x2-x5 of that in international gross.

  11. badhatharry says:

    The article discusses the fact that Woody had the sex scandal re: Soon Yi, and AA had multiple sexual harassment suits filed against them, and that the photos were a commentary on the media’s “tabloid scandal mongering.”

    However, when confronted with the lawsuit, Dov Charney told the media he was going to drag Woody’s sex scandal before the judge, both as a way to deter the lawsuit, and to show that Woody’s image isn’t worth $10 million.

    Nope. No irony there.

    • nakedscience says:

      @badhatharry: Something tells me neither the judge nor Woody Allen would have cared much. Everyone is more than aware of his reputation and it hasn’t stopped him yet.

  12. ajlei says:

    Well, on the subject of Woody Allen, I think his movie with Larry David looks hilarious.

  13. albear says:

    Can someone who is fluent in Hebrew please translate what the billboars says, *sorry I’m a simple gentile, atheist really*

    • nakedscience says:

      @albear: Why don’t people read comments before they comment? This was already answered upthread.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        @nakedscience: Maybe they forgot to refresh. I’ve been guilty of that: open the article, do something in another tab, and forget to refresh before commenting.

        It’s an excuse that doesn’t work when there’s hours between a duplicate comment and the original so I’m totally with you on the ones that show up a day later on page 3.

      • albear says:

        Guess wghat naked. That reply was not there when I hit reply. Now quit being an asshole.@nakedscience:

        • nakedscience says:

          @albear: Kinda don’t believe it, considering there is almost an HOUR difference in the time stamps, but sure.

  14. mister_bojangles says:

    Why s ths n th cnsmrst?

    • TakingItSeriously is a Technopile says:

      @mister_bojangles: Because the consumerist makes their own rules about what they post. ;)

    • nakedscience says:

      @mister_bojangles: Last I checked, ad campaigns had quite a lot to do with consumerism.

      Also, thanks for adding to the discussion! Oh, wait, someone already made this exact same inane comment, nevermind.

      • mister_bojangles says:


        LOL sorry for criticizing the consumerist. Is that not allowed?

        • nakedscience says:

          @mister_bojangles: It was inane and added nothing whatsover to the post or discussion. You know how to e-mail editors, right?

          • mister_bojangles says:


            You’re certainly entitled to your opinion. Yes I know how to email editors but there is a comment’s section here also.

            Just because you didn’t agree or think my post had value, doesn’t mean you should be so rude.

            • nakedscience says:

              @mister_bojangles: “Just because you didn’t agree or think my post had value, doesn’t mean you should be so rude.”

              Wow. That’s IRONIC. Just because someone doesn’t think a post made by the consumerist editors has value, doesn’t mean they need to be rude, obnoxious, and leave stupid comments that add nothing to the conversation. Good GRACIOUS, people.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          @mister_bojangles: Since you asked (you’re new so I’m assuming you’re not being snarky): The Consumerist Comment Code

          “Why is this here” is one of the most annoying comments you can make. The answer is usually obvious and as nakedscience said it adds nothing to the discussion.

          But most importantly the comment is usually made not because someone is honestly confused about the article’s relevance but because as a way to complain that they don’t like the article for whatever reason. There’ll be five “Why is this here” comments every time the Consumerist posts something funny.

          That’s the other thing. It gets said WAY too much.

          • mister_bojangles says:

            @Rectilinear Propagation:

            Thanks for explaining the policy, it’s an understandable one.

            I just don’t get why nakedscience feels like its his duty to reply to all these comments and unnessarily lengthen the threads with additional inane comments of his own.

            • nakedscience says:

              @mister_bojangles: Because if you’d read the actual comment code before you comment, you’d know it’s a no-no, and if you were actually intelligent, you’d see the irony in calling my comment rude, while leaving a very rude comment yourself.

              • mister_bojangles says:


                Thats like saying make sure you know all Arizona traffic laws before you enter that state. Sometimes its not someones first thought to read a websites privacy policy, comment policy, terms and conditions etc.

                Consumerist disemvowled by original post and linked me to their posting guide and I am ok with that.

                I guess if you were also intelligent, you’d see the irony in posts complaining about other peoples posts.

                • mister_bojangles says:


                  Are you having a bad day? Did your mother die or something? Why such asshattery at everyone who’s post you dont agree with. the consumerist seems to be doing a good job policing comments that do no adhere by their code. They dont need an internet superhero vigilante.

                • nakedscience says:

                  @mister_bojangles: Dude. It kind of IS up to the user to read the comment code (it’s not hard to find, nor is it hard to follow) before leaving comments.

            • pop top says:

              @mister_bojangles: It’s a vicious cycle.

            • MercyEleusis says:

              @mister_bojangles: It probably had to do with your oh-so original never-been-done-before one-liner quip that doesn’t add anything to the site.

    • Jfielder says:

      @mister_bojangles: Because they forgot to ask you if it was OK first.

    • pop top says:

      @mister_bojangles: Why are you?

    • Anonymously says:


      Why is this on the consumerist?

      Why is this on the consumerist?

    • nursetim says:

      @mister_bojangles: to put in context the future story about AA having to lay off employees because the company lost money.

  15. na2rboy says:

    wht s th pnt f ths pst?

    • coren says:

      @na2rboy: To get that exact comment from you, of course!

    • cmdrsass says:

      @mister_bojangles: I think Jezebel is leaking.

    • pop top says:

      @na2rboy: What is the point of your comment?

      If you don’t think the article is about consumer news, DON’T READ IT.

      • Mr_Human says:

        “If you don’t think the article is about consumer news, DON’T READ IT.”

        @squinko: I hate it when people say stuff like that. It’s totally pointless and seems geared to make one feel mighty and righteous. The commenter has a perfect right to question whether the post is Consumeristy. What’s the problem of bringing that up?

        • nakedscience says:

          @Mr_Human: No, actually, the commenter doesn’t have a perfect right to question whether the ost is on Consumerist. Notice he was disemvoweled?

          If you have a problem with the content, you can e-mail the editors instead of making inane, useless comments.

          • nakedscience says:

            @nakedscience: “have a perfect right to question whether the ost is on Consumerist.”

            Missing words and letters, yay. You catch my drift, I’m sure.

          • Mr_Human says:

            @nakedscience: Well, frankly, I don’t think he should have been disemvoweled, and secondly I still find people who say “then don’t read it” to be obnoxious. And I’ll give up my vowels for a spin.

            • pop top says:

              @Mr_Human: It’s obnoxious to read the comments on here and see at least one crying about the subject matter (if it’s not directly related to consumer rights stuff). I’ve seen several commenters complaining about how X or Y doesn’t belong on here and whine whine whine.

              The editors post stuff because it’s interesting or funny or weird, and it’s usually quasi-related to consumerism/consumers’ rights. If you don’t find it interesting, you can move along, and/or e-mail the author of the piece if you want. There’s nothing gained by crying about it. To me, it detracts from the intelligent and funny discussions we usually have on this site.

            • henwy says:


              I’ll happily give up my vowels too to state that NS is a twatwaffle.

            • nakedscience says:

              @Mr_Human: And I find it highly obnoxious when some holier-than-thou person comes in and tries to question, publicly, the intent of the editors.

        • pop top says:

          @Mr_Human: nakedscience makes my point for me perfectly. If you don’t want to read articles that aren’t about a certain subject, why take the time to read them and then complain about it?

          I’m not trying to be righteous and mighty and say that the poster can’t bring it up. They should e-mail the editor instead (they’d probably get a better response, and not get disemvoweled). Sounding off about it in the comments just makes them sound whiny.

          • nakedscience says:

            @squinko: And I’d say it’s those asking, “WHY IS THIS HERE?!” trying to be righteous and mighty, trying to imply they know what is best for this blog.

          • henwy says:


            You see, you usually have to read something first to realize it’s not about a certain subject. Those who can’t read with mental telepathy are forced into such conundrums. Thus, we can’t not read something so we don’t have to complain about it because we had to, in fact, read it first in order to realize it was something we wanted to complain about. Comprehend?

  16. octopede says:

    What were they thinking? Implied celebrity endorsement is marketing quicksand, I think even the most novice ad rep would realize that. Unless they were intentionally trying to goad some cheap publicity. If that was the case, they should’ve just let Dov be himself, he’s bound to stir up something idiotic without having to spend $10 mil to clean it up.

  17. Aaron Strader says:

    I totally side with Woody on this.

    It’s a matter of principles. If someone just stuck your image on a product you’d never endorse, and never got paid for said endorsement, you’d be irked. Especially if the image was taken out of context in reference to something you’re not. Woody ain’t no saint, and he’s certainly not a rabbi.

    I’m mixed on his movies. I have my favorites, and there’s others I can’t stand, but on the whole, he’s a good film maker, and I look forward to this new one with Larry David. Perfect pairing, if you ask me.

  18. korybing says:

    The article makes it sound like it’s Woody Allen being a jerk here, but didn’t American Apparel use Allen’s face in a big ol’ billboard without asking him if it was okay? Isn’t that kind of a dick move?

    And this is not even taking into account that the ad makes no sense to begin with. If you need an Artist’s Statement for an advertisement then you are doing it wrong. If they made it with “no commercial ambitions” why did they slap their company’s name on it?

    The whole thing is confusing.

    • morlo says:

      @korybing: American Apparel was seriously out of line in court, arguing that Woody Allen’s image is worthless because of past scandals, and that they were going to have testimony from his ex-wife proving what a terrible person he was. If the idea from beginning was to insult Allen, AA could have found a much cheaper way, or at least more insulting way.

      • korybing says:

        @morlo: How do those arguments even make it into court? It seems like crap like that would be thrown out pretty quickly.

        I still don’t understand the motivation for all of this, outside of American Apparel just wanting to be publicity turds.

  19. takes_so_little says:

    @Mr_Human: The commenter also has every right not to read things that are not of interest to him/her. Some people like to seek out content that annoys them just to take pleasure in crowing about how annoyed they are with it. It’s like that old joke:

    “Doc, it hurts when I scratch my foot!”

    Doc:”Quit scratching your foot.”

  20. Anonymous says:

    Nothing confusing: AA stole from Mr. Allen. Period. Making light of or ignoring AA’s theft betrays ignorance of how, in America, wealth is (or used to be) built. Not by lawsuit, surely, but by building, in this case, the brand we know as Woody Allen. Characterizing Mr. Allen’s suit as “a new way to make ends meet” is deliberately insulting. Mr. Villarreal’s “We kid you because . . .” is much too little, too late. It is flippant and–one might with good reason think–completely insincere.

  21. takes_so_little says:

    @mister_bojangles: @mister_bojangles: Quit whining. You made a bad post and people called you on it. Deal.

  22. WorldHarmony says:

    I don’t understand the motivation behind this sentence: “He waited until American Apparel made an unauthorized billboard using his graven image…” This implies he knew that they were going to use his image and that, seeing dollar signs, he waited for them to do it so that he could sue, rather than warning them not to do it. If you are making this type of accusation and it is untrue, then maybe you should be hiding from his attorneys!

    • Cat_In_A_Hat says:

      @WorldHarmony: I don’t quite think that’s what they were trying to imply. They’re saying he made money by someone else doing the work for him. Using his image without his permission.

    • MinorAnnoyance says:

      @WorldHarmony: And it’s just possible that they were being ironic… that’s the way I took it.

  23. Lisa Cebrian says:

    this is basic copyright law…he didn’t give them permission to use an image from one of his movies, which he owns…AA used the image without permission…he has the right to sue. period.

  24. CyberSkull says:

    If you wanted to make some kind of artsy statement, you put it in an artsy venue of some kind. Not on a commercial billboard. For advertisements. You know, to make money.

    There are plenty of art website or galleries to put such things in.