In what may become the largest profits lawsuit in TV history, Robert Kirkman, co-creator of “The Walking Dead,” along with producers Gale Anne Hurd, Glen Mazzara and David Alpert, filed suit this week against AMC, which they accuse of cheating them, The Hollywood Reporter’s THR, esq., reports.
The case is being closely watched by media companies as they become more vertically consolidated, the report notes.
“The new case follows the one from Frank Darabont, the show’s other co-creator, who was fired as executive producer in the middle of the second season and is demanding $280 million in an accounting lawsuit that has reached the summary judgment phase,” THR reports. “Now, the other key creatives on the series are targeting significant damages of their own. With the participation of Kirkman, whose comic books served as source material for ‘Walking Dead,’ and Hurd and Alpert, who continue to work on the series, AMC finds itself in court against those whose ongoing involvement is crucial to ‘Walking Dead’s’ and perhaps AMC’s future.”
As in the case of the suit from Darabont, the plaintiffs are challenging the amount “paid” by AMC Network to AMC’s studio arm for the show.
“Because the companies are affiliated with each other, what’s seen on ‘Walking Dead’ profit participation statements are imputed license fees, meaning a stand-in figure that doesn’t really mean that money has exchanged hands,” the report notes. “During the first four seasons of ‘Walking Dead,’ AMC was imputing a fee of $1.45 million per episode. That’s now up to $2.4 million, but is still less than the non-imputed license fees of ‘Better Call Saul’ (a ‘Breaking Bad’ spinoff) and ‘Mad Men,’ which are produced by non-affiliated Sony and Lionsgate, respectively, and don’t command NFL primetime-type ratings as ‘Walking Dead’ does.”
We encourage readers to click on the link above to THR to read the full report on the case, which has the potential to change the way future deals are set up.