The Walking Dead has been the number one scripted show on television for five years now, and the producers of the series, including comic creator Robert Kirkman, executive producers Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert, and former showrunner Glen Mazzara, say AMC has not paid their profit shares properly. A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court follows a similar legal battle already underway between Frank Darabont, the TV series' creator, and AMC.
The suit essentially says that AMC Network is paying a smaller fraction of the licensing fee for The Walking Dead than they normally would, since they're paying it to AMC Studios, under the same conglomerate.
“When the production company and the network are part of the same conglomerate, as AMC Studios and AMC Network are here, there is a powerful financial incentive to keep the lion’s share of the profit at the network level and not pay a fair-market-value license fee to the production company — thereby depriving profit participants, like Plaintiffs, of their fair share of the series’ profits," the suit reads.
The producers all say they have clauses in their contract where they are meant to receive profits based on market value -- in other words, as if AMC Studios and Network were unaffiliated. Kirkman and Hurd, as EPs on Fear the Walking Dead, have identical stakes and claims for that series as well. Kirkman's ownership of The Walking Dead as a property, and AMC's failure to pay "contractually obligated royalties" for that, is also covered in the suit.
AMC released a statement that called the lawsuit "baseless and predictably opportunistic," while also saying they hold the producers in high regard.
“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.”