LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Representatives for Martin Scorsese on Friday said it was "shocking" that Cecchi Gori Pictures had sued the famed director for failing to make a promised movie for the Italian production company, and labeled the claims in the legal action "absurd."
The Oscar-winning filmmaker of "The Departed" was sued by Cecchi Gori Pictures earlier this week for choosing to make "The Wolf of Wall Street," which started filming on Thursday, instead of its movie, "Silence."
The company said Scorsese had agreed to put "Silence" ahead of other projects in recent years and to get into production before the end of 2012.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles alleging breach of contract, also claims the director and his company owe Cecchi Gori $1.5 million plus 20 percent of other fees Scorsese received from making movies that were put ahead of "Silence."
"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," Scorsese's representatives said in a statement.
"Mr. Scorsese is confident that he will prevail in court should Cecchi Gori Pictures actually pursue this meritless action," the statement said.
The lawsuit encompasses several agreements between Cecchi Gori, founded by Italian media mogul Vittorio Cecchi Gori, and Scorsese that date back several years and concern a film adaptation of Japanese novel "Silence" by author Shusaku Endo.
Scorsese and Cecchi Gori began discussing a "Silence" movie as far back as the 1980s, but it was continually put off while Cecchi Gori spent $750,000 developing the movie.
At one point, Scorsese agreed to make the movie before last year's Oscar-nominated "Hugo" and again he told the company he would make it by the end of 2012, according to Cecchi Gori.
The company's chief executive officer, Niels Juul, told the Los Angeles Times the reason Cecchi Gori filed the suit was to get clarification on when Scorsese might finally begin and said "we're hoping to resolve it amicably."
Reporting by Zorianna Kit and Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Gary Hill