Scorsese Accused of Leapfrogging ‘Silence’

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Hollywood production company accuses filmmaker Martin Scorsese of putting off a deal to co-produce a movie called “Silence,” and then refusing to pay $1.5 million for making “Hugo” first.
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     Cecchi Gori Pictures and Cecchi Gori USA sued Scorsese and his company, Sikelia Productions, in Superior Court, claiming they have been dragging their feet on the project for decades.
     Cecchi Gori claims that after years of delay, Scorsese promised to film “Silence” this year, but has since announced plans to make “Wolf of Wall Street” instead.
     Cecchi Gori says it asked Scorsese to confirm or deny the rumors, but he never replied.
     “After nearly two months of asking Scorsese/Sikelia for a response, which never came, the Cecchi Gori Parties had no alternative but to bring this action to enforce their contractual rights with Scorsese and Sikelia,” the 14-page lawsuit states.
     Cecchi Gori, founded by Italian producer Vittorio Cecchi Gori and his father, the late Mario Cecchi Gori, claims the Goris have collaborated with Scorsese on the “Silence” project since the 1980s, and says Scorsese confirmed in writing that he would make the film more than two decades ago.
     “Silence” is based on a novel by Japanese author Shusaku Endo about two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries who travel to Japan in the 17th century to investigate the emperor’s persecution and torture of Christians.
     Relying on Scorsese’s promise, Cecchi Gori says it spent more than $750,000 on development costs.
     “Silence” was slated to be Scorsese’s next project after “The Aviator” in 2004, but the director decided to tackle “The Departed” instead, according to the lawsuit.
     Cecchi Gori’s president at the time filed a lawsuit through his company, Hollywood Gang Productions, and won a settlement forcing Scorsese and Sikelia to pay Cecchi Gori each time they put another movie before “Silence.”
     Scorsese and Sikelia paid $1.5 million for “The Departed” and $1.25 million for “Shutter Island,” and were supposed to pay $1.5 million for Scorsese’s last film, “Hugo,” but never did, according to the complaint.
     They had also agreed to give Cecchi Gori producer credit and a cut of their backend participation for the interim films, but they reneged on this agreement for the film “Hugo,” the production company claims.
     It claims a fee-related lawsuit filed by Hollywood Gang Production in 2008 resulted, among other things, in the Superior Court ruling that Cecchi Gori held all rights to “The Silence.”
     After the ruling, Scorsese finally agreed to make the film in 2012, according to the complaint.
     But Cecchi Gori says media reports have since indicated that Scorsese’s next project is “Wolf of Wall Street,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughy and Jonah Hill.
     Cecchi Gori says it has asked Scorsese to confirm if the reports are true, pay the money it is owed for “Hugo,” and honor the agreement to make “Silence” or pay another fee for once again leapfrogging its movie.
     It says the director has not responded.
     Cecchi Gori is represented by Charles Harder of Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin.
     A spokesperson at Sikelia Productions could not immediately be reached for comment.

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