Martin Scorsese Settles Lawsuit That Claimed He Was Paid $500,000 to Develop WWII Film – But Did Nothing

The initial complaint also said the filmmaker declined to refund the half-million-dollar payment and was unresponsive

Martin Scorsese at the "Killers of the Flower Moon" Los Angeles premiere.
Martin Scorsese at the "Killers of the Flower Moon" Los Angeles premiere. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Martin Scorsese has settled a lawsuit from an aspiring U.K. screenwriter who claimed the “Killers of the Flower Moon” director took $500,000 to help develop a World War II movie, but failed to do any work on the project. Terms of the settlement remained private.

Simon Afram wrote the screenplay “Operation: Fortitude,” which chronicled the Allied forces’ deception tactics against the Germans prior to the invasion of Normandy.

In January 2022, Scorsese boarded the project as an executive producer, with Afram and producer Edward Kahl hoping Scorsese’s involvement would attract top talent both in front of and behind the camera. The duo also hoped to go into production later that year in Europe under the project’s production banner, Op-Fortitude.

“Although more than 15 months have passed since the contract was signed, Scorsese has done nothing to further the production of the motion picture and has been non-responsive to Op-Fortitude, leaving Op-Fortitude with no option but to pursue its breach of contract, rescission, and conversion claims in court. Op-Fortitude is seeking return of the $500,000 initial payment as well as punitive damages,” the plaintiffs previously said in the initial complaint from 2023.

According to Scorsese’s cross-complaint, Scorsese had reached out to several filmmakers he thought were suitable for the “Operation: Fortitude” project — however, none of the directors expressed interest in doing it.

Scorsese’s counter-argument also said that the plaintiffs lacked an understanding of the film industry’s norms. His lawyers highlighted that even “The Irishman” took more than a decade to develop and produce.

“For those new to the film industry, there is often an unrealistic expectation that a great idea or script will instantaneously transform into an Academy Award-winning work of art,” Scorsese’s legal team said in the filing.

On Thursday, the plaintiffs filed a notice that the entire case has been settled. No further details were made available.

Afram’s one previous produced credit was as an executive producer on the 2011 Jessica Chastain and Al Pacino docudrama, “Wilde Salomé.” Pacino wrote and directed the film, based on the Oscar Wilde play “Salomé.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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