The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman has launched a lawsuit against AMC, accusing the network of cheating him out of millions of dollars.
Robert Kirkman, who created the comic-book and has been a writer on the TV adaptation, is suing AMC alongside fellow producers Gale Anne Hurd, Glen Mazzara and David Alpert. The quartet insist that they are owed a larger share of the profits from the success of The Walking Dead, and it spinoffs The Talking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead.
Kirkman, Hurd, Mazzara and Alpert have declared that because AMC used its sister studio AMC Studios to produce The Walking Dead, they were able to keep more of the money from the show’s merchandising, streaming reruns and various other hugely profitable ventures. This is a common practice by television studios, as the likes of CBS and ABC have their own sister studios that they then buy the shows from.
Each of Kirkman, Hurd, Mazzara and Alpert were supposed to get a higher percentage of The Walking Dead’s income following its huge success, but AMC’s cunning maneuvering of these profits has left them short changed. AMC did this by not charging AMC Studios as high a licensing fee as they usually would.
The complaint explains, “The defendant AMC Entities exploited their vertically-integrated corporate structure to combine both the production and the exhibition of [The Walking Dead], which allowed AMC to keep the lion’s share of the series’ enormous profits for itself and not share it with [Kirkman, Hurd, Mazzara, and Alpert].”
Because AMC had negotiated licensing fees with individual production companies for Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, the creative team behind these shows made more money than the aforementioned quartet of producers. That’s despite the fact that The Walking Dead has pulled in millions more viewers than these shows over its eight season run.
The Walking Dead is also currently embroiled in a similar $280 million lawsuit with Frank Darabont, which has been running for around three years. Darabont is adamant that AMC owe him backend payments from the show, which he ran for its first season. The lawsuit has been pretty brutal, too, as just last month AMC’s lawyers actually released expletive-heavy emails from Darabont in an attempt to embarrass the filmmaker. Time will tell whether AMC will stoop so low with Kirkman, Hurd, Mazzara and Alpert.