Cecchi Gori Pictures, the Italian production company which is behind local breakout titles such as Il Positino and Life is Beautiful as well as blockbusters 300 and Se7en, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Wednesday in a California court.
The news comes on the eve of the release of Martin Scorsese’s long-gestating pic Silence, the film which was the subject of a long legal battle between Cecchi Gori and the director. It saw the production company file suit against Scorsese and his shingle Sikelia Productions for the delay in directing the film. In a 2012 suit, Cecchi Gori said that it invested more than $750,000 to develop the book Silence, written by Shusako Endo, into a feature film based on contracts and assurances that it would be Scorsese’s next project. Scorsese initially agreed in 1990 to co-produce and direct the film but Cecchi Gori’s lawsuit alleged he postponed to make films like The Departed, Shutter Island, Hugo and The Wolf of Wall Street. The two parties settled the dispute in 2014.
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In 2013, the company hit more troubled times when its founder Vittorio Cecci Gori was sentenced to six years in prison in 2013 and ordered to pay €11.5M ($11.9M) of damages in connection with the criminal bankruptcy of his production company Safin Cinematografica.
In the bankruptcy filing issued on Wednesday (read it here), Cecchi Gori’s current CEO Andrew De Camara submitted a declaration for Chapter 11 that mentions bringing litigation claims “against entities that took advantage of the power vacuum created by VCG’s indictment and conviction.”
He added that the bankruptcy cases were filed “to recapture and monetize assets for the benefit of creditors and other parties in interest.”
It also said: “The Debtors’ game plan will require the Debtors to navigate and operate within the world of film sutdios and Hollywood and it will require industry specific expertise. While I am in part stepping into an unknown situation, based on my experience, absent a chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, there would be no prospect for recovery for the creditors of the Debtors.”
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