With the “The Walking Dead” series finale looming, AMC Networks and the show’s producers will be in court once again battling over profits. Producers Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, Charles Eglee, Glenn Mazzara, and comic creator/producer Robert Kirkman have filed yet another suit. The group first sued AMC in 2017 over how profits from the show are calculated. Most of these claims have since been thrown out by the court.
The reason for this recent lawsuit dates back to 2013 when then showrunner Frank Darabont was fired. Darabont and his agency CAA claimed AMC “deprived him of millions in profits through improper and abusive tactics.” Darabont’s team alleged AMC created the show, but then made deals with itself for distribution rights. This in turn seriously lowered any potential cut for creators. While the network denies these allegations, they did quietly settle with Darabont in 2021 for a cool $200 million.
Producers of “The Walking Dead” feel that settlement should entitle them to the same kind of 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 via a statement made by 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.”
Hence why they are renewing these claims with the California Superior Court in a $200 million lawsuit. This was a breach of contract is not only for the show but also its spin-off “Fear The Walking Dead.”
AMC’s legal team is being pretty open about how they feel on the matter. “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,” attorney Orin Snyder said on behalf of AMC Networks. “This is just another crass money grab. We are confident it will fail, as their previous attempts have failed.”
In 2020, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Daniel Buckley sided with AMC that they did not breach their contract. In April of 2022, Buckley dismissed most of the case. He did however allow the producers to pursue more litigation with a more limited set of claims.
Only time will tell how this plays out. All we know is this will be in court long after “The Walking Dead”’s final episode airs on November 20th, 2022.