Contract dispute: After 22 years of holdup, studio sues Scorsese

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

When two parties make a contract, there is generally the expectation that the service contemplated will be performed promptly, or that the good negotiated over will be delivered reasonably quickly. The parties should make their expected timetables clear, of course, but generally speaking, it is not often that parties make a contract and expect it to last 22 years.

That’s why a movie studio is suing famed movie director Martin Scorsese, whom Miami residents know as the creative force behind cinema classics like “Scarface” and “Raging Bull.” The studio claims that in 1990, Scorsese agreed to direct a film for the studio, but has put off starting filming for more than two decades.

Scorsese’s legal team counters that the director, who has never been what you would call prolific, still wants to make the film (and thus satisfy the contract). It points out that Scorsese and the studio have made five deal amendments to the contract over time and that Scorsese has given the studio more than $3.5 million to atone for his tardiness.

The reason we thought this story was interesting is that it seemed like a situation in which accepting that a party (here, Scorsese) was going to or had breached the contract was not acceptable to the other party (in this case, the studio.)

Sometimes, damages are not enough. You do not want money; you want what was bargained for and what you were promised.

In certain circumstances, that is not possible, but we certainly understand the desire to make a bid for what you wanted in the first place. When we encounter clients who are in the situation we just described, we make every effort and pursue every avenue to get what is desired.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “Martin Scorsese Defends Taking 22 Years and Counting to Direct ‘Silence’ (Exclusive)” Eriq Gardner, Nov. 27, 2012