by Jeremy Rogers
AMC’s show The Walking Dead has been the number one show in cable television for the last half decade. It has been the singularly most successful show that AMC has ever had a hand in producing. However not every employee at the studio is happy with the current state of the show. Creator of The Walking Dead comic that the hit show is based off of, Robert Kirkman, has joined former showrunner Glen Mazzara and executive producers Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert in suing AMC for cheating them out of their share of the show’s profits.
AMC has released a statement denouncing the suit:
“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.”
The legal complaint stems from the decision made by AMC to film the show using AMC Studios and to distribute the show using AMC Network. The contracts for those involved in the lawsuit are with AMC Network, and their earnings are directly tied to the profits of AMC Network. The part of their contracts that the producers are all citing AMC as being in violation of involves insuring that AMC Studios and AMC Network make financial transactions that are comparable in dollar amount to similar deals with third-party studios. Each had negotiated with AMC to earn a certain percentage of the show’s earnings from AMC Network. Now the actors claim that AMC Enterprises, the parent company of both the network and the studio, artificially manipulated prices and finances between the two entities to keep most of the show’s profits in AMC Studios while under-reporting the profits of AMC Networks, meaning they would have to pay out less to the producers.
This lawsuit comes as the co-creator and original showrunner, Frank Darabont, has his lawsuit against AMC taken to the next phase of litigation scheduled for next week. Darabont was fired soon after the second season of the show premiered, and he claims that the studio did so in order to deny him his proper wages. He also has similar claims in his lawsuit about AMC shifting costs to keep AMC Network’s profits artificially slim in order to not pay him his due for creating one of the most watched shows on television. In total, Darabont is seeking $280 million from AMC.
Should Darabont be successful in is lawsuit and Robert Kirkman et al. sue for similar amounts, AMC could be looking at a $1 billion payout. Despite the lawsuit and the potential for a large amount of money being taken out of AMC’s accounting books, The Walking Dead’s production will not be majorly impacted.
Jeremy is junior majoring in News Journalism and Telecommunications and minoring in Political Science and American History. Though he is Byte’s Senior News Editor, he also writes reviews, features, and guest stars on podcasts.