‘Walking Dead’ producers file new $200-million lawsuit against AMC Networks
The producers of AMC Networks’ “The Walking Dead” have filed a new $200-million lawsuit in their latest effort to recover profits from the hit show and its spinoffs.
A group of producers, including the creator of the comic book series, Robert Kirkman, first sued AMC in 2017 over how it calculated profits from the show, but most of their claims were rejected by the court.
On Monday, the producers renewed their claims in Los Angeles Superior Court, suing AMC Networks for breach of contract over the zombie series and its prequel, “Fear the Walking Dead.”
In their latest complaint, producers allege that AMC’s $200-million settlement with the series showrunner Frank Darabont in 2021 entitles them to similar treatment.
“On the one hand AMC tells them they are entitled to nothing based on erroneous pre-trial rulings which are subject to appeal, while AMC paid $200 million to Frank Darabont and CAA to avoid a New York jury’s review of the exact same contingent compensation definition,” the producers said in a statement via their attorney Sheldon Eisenberg. “Instead of giving Plaintiffs the benefit of the Darabont settlement as required by the express terms of their contracts, AMC’s creative activity these days seems limited to figuring out new ways to mistreat the talent that is responsible for its now past success.”
Orin Snyder, attorney for AMC Networks, noted that the producers’ biggest claims against AMC were already rejected by the court.
“Another lawsuit means another attempt to rewrite their agreements and extract even more than the millions they have already been paid, and will be paid in the future, for their profit participation in The Walking Dead,” Snyder said in a statement. “This is just another crass money grab. We are confident it will fail, as their previous attempts have failed.”
Fights over profit sharing have escalated between distributors and content creators, who argue they have been short-changed as shows have taken off on streaming platforms.
So far, the producers of “The Walking Dead” have faced multiple setbacks in court.
The ‘Walking Dead’ court cases are being closely watched because they provide a rare glimpse into the typically opaque world of Hollywood accounting.
The lawsuit first filed by producers Robert Kirkman, David Alpert, Gale Anne Hurd, Charles Eglee and Glen Mazzara in 2017 was split into stages.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Daniel Buckley in 2020 agreed with AMC’s arguments that it did not breach its contract with the producers.
The producers have since filed amended complaints and were dealt another blow in April this year when Buckley dismissed most of their case. However, he allowed the producers to pursue litigation with more limited claims.
Darabont and CAA first sued AMC in 2013 after he was fired from the show. He alleged the network deprived him of millions in profits through improper and abusive “self-dealing,” when a network creates a show and then makes a deal with itself for the distribution rights, lowering the potential cut for creators. AMC has denied those allegations.
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