Claiming that the lawsuit -- which accuses Scorsese and Sikelia of two counts of breach of written contract, intentional misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation -- has "all the earmarks of a media stunt," the statement reads:
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.
According to the suit filed Wednesday, Scorsese was to shoot "Silence" after "Kundun," but opted to direct "Bringing Out the Dead" and "Gangs of New York," during which time Cecchi Gori Pictures incurred development costs that reached $750,000 by 2001. Following his 2004 drama "The Aviator," the director allegedly agreed to direct "Silence," but didn't. The company filed the lawsuit once they learned of Scorsese's plan to follow-up his Oscar-winning family film "Hugo" with "The Wolf of Wall Street," and not "Silence." According to Cecchi Gori Pictures, the filmmaker had agreed to start production on "Silence" by the end of year.
"Silence," based on Japanese author Shusaku Endo's novel about Portugese missionaries sent to Japan in 1683 to investigate claims of the torture of Christians by the emperor, is one of the primary remaining assets for Cecchi Gori Pictures, the film company led by Vittorio Cecchi Gori (responsible for the little-seen Robert De Niro family drama "Everybody's Fine"), that has been undergoing financial restructuring for the last several years.
The company claims Scorsese and Sikelia owe $1.5 million, plus 20% of all "back-end" compensation received by the director, related to "Hugo."
"The Wolf of Wall Street," which tracks the rise of fall of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort, is set to come out next year and stars Scorsese regular Leonardo DiCaprio, alongside a starry cast that includes Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, and Matthew McConaughey. Following "Wall Street," Scorsese has a number of projects in the works, including his long gestating Frank Sinatra biopic (currently being written by "The Hunger Games" scribe Billy Ray), and the gangster pic "The Irishman," which would reunite him with Robert De Niro.