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Cecchi Gori Pictures recently filed a law suit against the celebrated director of Taxi Driver and his production company Sikelia Productions after it emerged he has never directed an adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel Silence, based on an alleged agreement reportedly made in 1990.
In a statement, Scorsese and Sikelia respond to two counts of breach of written contract, intentional misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation made in the lawsuit, saying the suit has ”all the earmarks of a media stunt”:
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, leaving Cecchi Gori Pictures in financial mire after they spent $750,000 on development costs by 2001.
Following his 2004 drama The Aviator, the director is alleged to have reneged on his agreement to direct Silence. 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. According to Cecchi Gori Pictures, the filmmaker had agreed to start production on Silence by the end of 2012.
“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 company has been undergoing financial restructuring for the last several years, with its best known film the family drama Everybody’s Fine, starring Robert De Niro.
Scorsese has a number of projects in the works, including his long gestating Frank Sinatra biopic – which is being written by The Hunger Games screenwriter Billy Ray – and the gangster pic The Irishman, which would reunite him with Robert De Niro.