Update — Representatives for Martin Scorsese have released the following statement in regards to the lawsuit:
"It is shocking to us that the lawyers for Cecchi Gori Pictures would file a suit pursuing such absurd claims considering the amicable working relationship existing between Martin Scorsese and the principals of Cecchi Gori Pictures.The claims asserted are completely contradicted by, inconsistent with, and contrary to the express terms of an agreement entered into by the parties last year.
The lawsuit filing on the eve of Mr. Scorsese starting another picture has all the earmarks of a media stunt.
Mr. Scorsese is confident that he will prevail in court should Cecchi Gori Pictures actually pursue this meritless action."
Martin Scorsese is one of cinema's most prolific directors, but it's the film he isn't making that's getting him into trouble. Cecchi Gori Pictures, the production company headed by Vittorio Cecchi Gori, has filed a lawsuit against Scorsese for not making his dream project "Silence," which the director has been trying to get mounted for the past two decades.
Based on a Japanese novel by Shusaku Endo, "Silence" follows a group of missionaries in 1683 who are sent to Japan in order to investigate the reported torturing of Christians by the country's emperor. Scorsese was originally supposed to direct "Silence" after 1997's "Kundun," but signed deals in 2004 and 2011 that allowed him to delay "Silence" until he finished "The Departed," "Shutter Island" and "Hugo." In May, Cecchi Gori CEO Niels Juul said that "Silence" had been "in pre-production" for a while, but with Scorsese currently shooting "The Wolf of Wall Street" with Leonardo DiCaprio, apparently Gori has had enough of waiting for Scorsese to finally make the movie.
Having already poured in $750,000 to develop the project, Cecchi Gori's complaints states that the company "cannot allow their rights to be ignored or compromised by further delay on the part of Scorsese and Sikelia [Productions]." Of course, Ceechi Gori hasn't gone without any compensation, as the deals Scorsese made stipulated that the director pay "substantial compensation and other valuable benefits, for the right to direct these three other films prior to 'Silence.'" However, Scorsese hasn't paid the reported $1 million – $1.5 million (plus up to 20% of Scorsese's back end) to Ceechi Gori for "Hugo."
"The Wolf of Wall Street" is expected some time in 2013, after which, we assume, Scorsese will finally make "Silence." Either that, or he'll finally pay Ceechi Gori their "substantial compensation" and plan a bunch of other movies to shoot instead. [THR]