the Walking Dead series finale is coming this weekend, but the battles over the big bucks from the one-time blockbuster zombie apocalypse show are far from over.
With the frayed remnants of a 2017 profits participation lawsuit filed by Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, Charles Eglee and former TWD showrunner Glenn Mazzara still limping through the courts, the producers on November 14 hit AMC with a new breach of contract action for $200 million.
“Even though AMC exploited Plaintiffs’ ideas and services to make billions from the Walking Dead franchise, AMC issued a MAGR definition that, in its original form, would not have paid out a single dollar in profit participation to Plaintiffs,” said the filing in Los Angeles Superior Court focusing on modified adjusted gross receipts and other alleged sleight of hands by AMC. “Unsurprisingly, AMC’s MAGR definition has spurred a storm of disputes with the creative talent on the Walking Dead that ultimately resulted in litigation,” the 19-page document, plus exhibits adds (read it here).
“Plaintiffs are entitled to the same treatment afforded to Darabont with respect to his MAGR interests, they are therefore entitled to have the same valuation applied to their MAGR interests, which, collectively, exceed Darabont’s and CAA’s,” the filing goes on to say of the 2021 settlement just before trial with original TWD showrunner Frank Darabont and CAA after almost a decade of bitter litigation. “As a result, Plaintiffs are entitled to a payment well over $200 million from AMC, in an amount to be proved at trial.”
Looking at the end of TWD and the beginning of a plethora of spin-offs that essentially make the once home of mad men other Breaking Bad into the TWD Network, AMC’s top outside lawyer pumped the brakes today.
“Robert Kirkman, David Alpert and the rest of these plaintiffs have had their biggest claims against AMC Networks thrown out of court twice, so now they are back with another lawsuit,” Gibson Dunn partner Orin Snyder told Deadline in a statement. “And another lawsuit means another attempt to rewrite their agreements and extract even more than the millions they have already been paid, and will be paid in the future, for their profit participation in the Walking Dead. This is just another crass money grab. We are confident it will fail, as their previous attempts have failed.
Centering now on audit claims after being torn down to the bone back in April, Kirkman, Hurd and the others’ initial suit is set to go to trial in February 2023. Having first filed his wide-ranging action in 2013, Shawshank Redemption director Darabont and CAA saw almost all their rights bought out “for a cash payment of $200 million (the “Settlement Payment”) to the plaintiffs and future revenue sharing related to certain future streaming exhibition of the Walking Dead other fear the walking dead,” the agreement document of July 16, 2021 stated.
“Plaintiffs were forced to file this lawsuit as a result of AMC’s two faced treatment of their right to participate in the historic success of the Walking Dead,” said attorney Sheldon Eisenberg to Deadline on behalf of Kirkman, Hurd and the rest today. “On the one hand AMC tells them they are entitled to nothing based on erroneous pre-trial rulings which are subject to appeal, while AMC paid $200 million to Frank Darabont and CAA to avoid a New York jury’s review of the exact same contingent compensation definition ,” the Sullivan & Triggs lawyer stated. “Instead of giving Plaintiffs the benefit of the Darabont settlement as required by the express terms of their contracts, AMC’s creative activity these days seems limited to figuring out new ways to mistreat the talent that is responsible for its now past success.”
TWD will come to an end on November 20 after 11 seasons and 177 episodes. While Kirkman actually concluded rather suddenly the comic back in 2019, the lucrative franchise will go on with more of Fear the Walking Deadplus the Norman Reedus starring Daryl spin-off and the Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan NYC-based The Walking Dead: Dead City spin off. With other as yet unannounced shows in the pipeline, there’s also a yet untitled Rick Grimes and Michonne mini-seres coming too, starring Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira reviving their roles from the mothershow.
So, none of this is really over.