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Walking Dead producers file lawsuit against AMC, up to 1 billion at stake

AMC The Walking Dead

The ratings for AMC's The Walking Dead may not quite reach the heights they used to, but the series is still the most-watched show on television, which would seem to ensure that it has many more seasons ahead of it. Unless maybe there were to be some kind of falling out behind the scenes... When word comes out that The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and series producers Gale Anne Hurd, Glen Mazzara, and David Alpert have filed a lawsuit against AMC, claiming that the network might have scammed them out of up to $1 billion in profits, it's hard not to wonder if such an event could stir up some series-ending bad blood.

The complaint against AMC, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court yesterday, 

arises from a major entertainment conglomerate’s failure to honor its contractual obligations to the creative people — the 'talent,' in industry jargon — behind the wildly successful, and hugely profitable, long-running television series The Walking Dead. The defendant AMC Entities exploited their vertically integrated corporate structure to combine both the production and the exhibition of TWD, which allowed AMC to keep the lion’s share of the series’ enormous profits for itself and not share it with the Plaintiffs, as required by their contracts."

The issue is that AMC Network has to pay the studio arm of AMC for the right to air the show, and the producers are questioning the amount being paid. The profit participation statements say that the licensing fees for episodes have ranged between $1.45 million and $2.4 million, but the producers believe that amount should be much higher. 

In his lawsuit against AMC, Frank Darabont, who developed The Walking Dead for television based on Kirkman's comic book series, suggested that the licensing fee should really be around $30 million. If the network were hiding over $27 million in revenue every time an episode is licensed to be aired, that could really add up... Which is where the $1 billion potential of this new lawsuit comes from.

It's a lot of Hollywood accounting legal speak, but what it comes down to is that the producers of The Walking Dead suspect that AMC is stealing from them, and that can't be a good sign for their working relationship.

An AMC spokesperson attempted to assuage any fears over the show's future with the following statement: 

These kinds of lawsuits are fairly common in entertainment and they all have one thing in common — they follow success. Virtually every studio that has had a successful show has been the target of litigation like this, and The Walking Dead has been the No. 1 show on television for five years in a row, so this is no surprise. We have enormous respect and appreciation for these plaintiffs, and we will continue to work with them as partners, even as we vigorously defend against this baseless and predictably opportunistic lawsuit."

Darabont's $280 million lawsuit against AMC is now in the summary judgment phase. While we wait to see what will happen there, we now have another, much larger lawsuit to keep track of.

Extra Tidbit: What do you think of this lawsuit?
Source: THR

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