Scorsese's 20-Year “Silence”? Director Sued Over Long-Delayed Film Project

Oscar winner accused of passing on an adaption of the Japanese novel Silence several times and failing to pay up his reported delay fees.

A spurned production company thinks Martin Scorsese ain't quite the goodfella.

Cecchi Gori Pictures has sued the Oscar-winning auteur for breach of contract after he allegedly bailed on a project that he agreed to direct for them 20 years ago, E! News has confirmed.

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In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the company claims that in 1990 the "Raging Bull" director signed on to helm an adaptation of the Japanese novel "Silence," a religion-tinged drama about the persecution of Christians in 17th-century Japan by its imperious emperor

The company, which was founded by Italian magnate Vittorio Cecchi Gori, alleges that it already dropped $750,000 to kick-start the project and that Scorsese had committed to directing it after finishing work on 1997's Kundun.

According to the suit, the director postponed "Silence" so he could direct "The Departed," "Shutter Island" and "Hugo." As part of that deferment deal, Scorsese agreed to pay what essentially amounts to a delay fee in order to work on those three films before Silence.

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The suit alleges that Scorsese failed to pay the fees--which reportedly ran up to $1.25-$1.5 million per film along with a cut of the grosses--as well as jilted Cecchi Gori Pictures again by ditching the project to work on "The Wolf of Wall Street," his upcoming flick starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Cecchi Gori Pictures is seeking to have its agreement with Scorsese reformed and/or rescinded, and is also asking for unspecified compensatory damages, interest and court costs.

--Reporting by Claudia Rosenbaum

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