With the success of “”, comes legal problems for AMC. Following in the footsteps of former showrunner Frank Darabont, “The Walking Dead” creator/executive producer Robert Kirkman and three other producers have claimed breach of contract in a separate suit against the network.
In the lawsuit, Kirkman, Gale Ann Hurd, Glenn Mazzara and David Alpert allege the relationship between AMC Network and AMC Studios which produces the series has resulted in a much lower licensing fee than the popular series should command.
“This case 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’,” reads the complaint filed on Monday, August 14 in Los Angeles Superior Court. “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.”
During the first four seasons of “TWD”, AMC was imputing a fee of $1.45 million per episode. It’s now up to $2.4 million per episode, but is still less than the non-imputed license fees of “” and “” which are produced by non-affiliated Sony and Lionsgate, respectively.
The number has greatly affected the profits distributed to the four producers. “There can be no question that, if AMC Studio[s] and AMC Network were not part of the same conglomerate, the story would be very different,” the complaint continues.
Kirkman and the three other producers have not suggested what the precise imputed license fee should be, but potential damages are predicted to reach up to $1 billion.
In response to the lawsuit, AMC says in a 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 #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.”
In their own lawsuit, Frank Darabont and his agency CAA alleged they were denied rightful profit participation from the hit zombie apocalypse drama. They are seeking $280 million in damages.