Martin Scorsese Settles Lawsuit With Screenwriter Who Accused Him of Taking $500,000 to Do Nothing

Martin Scorsese has settled a lawsuit from an aspiring screenwriter who accused him of pocketing $500,000 to help develop a World War II movie — and then doing nothing.

Simon Afram wrote “Operation: Fortitude,” a screenplay about the Allied effort to deceive the German army as to the whereabouts of the Normandy invasion. He and another producer, Edward Kahl, hired Scorsese in January 2022 to serve as an executive producer, which they hoped would help attract an A-list cast and director. They also hoped to begin production in Europe later that year.

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That didn’t happen. In the lawsuit, the aspiring filmmakers contend that’s because the “Killers of the Flower Moon” director did not lift a finger to help after taking their money — and would not even meet with them. According to the suit, they sought repeatedly to talk directly with Scorsese, but his managers always said that he was too busy with other things.

“Defendants never made Mr. Scorsese available for a single phone call, meeting or other interaction,” the lawsuit alleges.

After coming to the conclusion that Scorsese just wasn’t interested, they asked for their money back and didn’t get it.

In a cross-complaint, Scorsese’s attorneys noted that Afram had almost no experience in the industry. He had only two unproduced scripts to his name and had spent years fruitlessly trying to develop “Operation: Fortitude.” They argued that he was simply not familiar with what it takes to get a movie off the ground.

“This case presents the classic example of the novice filmmaker who refuses to appreciate the stark difference between expectation and reality in the filmmaking business, to the detriment of all involved,” wrote the director’s attorneys, led by Marty Singer.

Scorsese’s lawyers alleged that Scorsese had personally identified several accomplished directors who might be good for the project and reached out to them through his representatives. Unfortunately, none were interested.

According to Scorsese’s cross-complaint, the plaintiffs did not understand that this was normal. Scorsese’s lawyers noted that it took 12 years to develop and produce “The Irishman.”

“The expectation of those new to the film industry is that a great idea or script will instantly be transformed into an Academy Award-winning work of art, when the reality is that it can take many years to even attempt to develop a movie,” they wrote.

Scorsese’s lawyers argued that it was in fact the plaintiffs who owed him $500,000 — the second installment guaranteed by the contract — and not vice versa.

The lawsuit was filed in May 2023. At the time, the plaintiffs alleged that their involvement with Scorsese had cost them $500,000 and 15 wasted months.

“‘Op-Fortitude’ has still not completed assembling its cast and crew and has not been able to begin the production process in earnest,” the lawsuit stated. “‘Op-Fortitude’ has instead been forced to essentially begin from scratch.”

After nearly a year of legal sparring, the plaintiffs filed a notice on Thursday indicating that the case has settled.

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