The Walking Dead is by far AMC’s most successful TV show. It has made the network a boatload of zombie money. Now, they might lose a boatload of that zombie money in a lawsuit brought against AMC by the show’s own producers!
Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, and producers Gale Anne Hurd, Glen Mazzara, and David Alpert have filed the lawsuit in California. Hurd and Alpert also filed a lawsuit in New York. They contend:
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”. 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.
Essentially, Kirkman and his fellow plaintiffs argue that the network purposefully set up the studio/distributor structure to give itself the majority of the money. The producers have contracts with the network that they feel have been circumvented. The dollar amount has not been specified just yet, but some reports claim it could reach the $1 billion mark.
There can be no question that, if AMC Studio and AMC Network were not part of the same conglomerate, the story would be very different. Those substantial license fees for “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” continued in seasons five and beyond, even though their ratings were a fraction of “TWD”’s. And while the AMC Network only obtained a limited number of playdates for those series as part of the comparatively-higher license fees it paid for them (both on television and its affiliated websites), the AMC Entities unilaterally took for themselves the right to run an unlimited number of runs of “TWD” in perpetuity on all AMC platforms.
Yes, this industry stuff can get pretty complicated. Despite the potential price tag of this lawsuit, don’t count on The Walking Dead going away any time soon. AMC just bought the 80,000-square-foot studio where TWD has been filmed since 2011. In fact, TWD is the ONLY show that films on that location. After spending millions just a week ago, there is no way the network will jeopardize the future of its flagship program – lawsuit or not. Nevertheless, they called the lawsuit “baseless and predictably opportunistic”.
The three producers responded by saying:
While we disagree with AMC on the merits of our lawsuit, we appreciate its statement that it will continue to work with us as partners on the continued success of “The Walking Dead”, “Fear the Walking Dead” and “The Talking Dead”. We also reaffirm our commitment to continue to make the best programs possible.
Will you geeks be watching this lawsuit as closely as you watch the show? Do you think Kirkman and the other producers are being greedy, or just want what they’re owed? Let us know in the comments!