AMC Hit With Another Lawsuit: Robert Kirkman Accuses Network Of Short-Changing ‘The Walking Dead’ Profits
Just a few days after it was announced that Robert Kirkman was leaving AMC and heading to Amazon, another bombshell has hit the Internet. The Walking Dead creator, along with several executive producers, have filed a lawsuit against the network. According to Variety, AMC‘s newest lawsuit states that they are short-changing profits. In addition to TWD, Fear The Walking Dead, and Talking Dead were also named in the suit.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, this is not the first time someone from TWD has sued the network. Former showrunner Frank Darabont filed a lawsuit, making several claims. Among those, his attorneys mentioned short-changing profits, just like Kirkman and others are stating now.
Robert Kirkman filed a lawsuit against AMC, along with executive producers Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, and Glen Mazzara. Filed on Monday in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Fear The Walking Dead and Talking Dead were also named. The plaintiffs allege that the network is short-changing profit participation stakes by self-dealing. AMC has reportedly not paid fair market value in the license fee due to its in-house production.
“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.”
AMC has already responded to the lawsuit, calling it “opportunistic.” The network also issued a statement about the claims made by Robert Kirkman and the executive producers of The Walking Dead.
“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.”
The way television usually works is that the network would pay the studio a license fee. However, TWD is produced in-house and the initial fee was set at 65 percent of production costs. There was a cap of $1.45 million for Season 1, with five percent increases per season afterward.
According to the new AMC lawsuit, the current license fee is only 68 percent of production costs. Entering into Season 8, it should be higher based on the original agreement. As Variety noted, The Walking Dead is a massive success with a huge fan base. If it were licensed from an outside studio, the fees would be a lot higher.
The lawsuit alleges that due to not having a fair licensing fee actually limits the profit participation stake values. The plaintiffs are also accusing AMC of “improperly deducted expenses from the pool of money available to profit participants.” This includes the cost of paying each member.
Robert Kirkman’s lawsuit against AMC also makes other claims. Out of $22.8 million in paid download revenue from Apple iTunes licensing of TWD in 2014, only $4.6 million was reported to be profit shared. The network is also being accused of double-dips on distribution fees for home video sales and international licensing. In addition to a fee paid to a third-party licensor for merchandising sales, another 50 percent in distribution fees was charged.
The Walking Dead creator alleges AMC has not paid him royalties as stated in the contract. The lawsuit also claims that a merchandising agreement was to give Kirkman control over certain products. However, AMC allegedly violated the terms of that agreement.
What are your thoughts on Robert Kirkman suing AMC networks?
[Featured Image by Jordin Althaus/AMC]