Darabont sues AMC over The Walking Dead profits

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Frank Darabont directing Andrew Lincoln in happier days. Credit: AMC

They say failure is an orphan and success is the mother of a million lawsuits—or  something like that. AMC’s The Walking Dead show is such a huge success that’s it’s already spawned a now-dismissed suit by original artist Tony Moore; and now original series creator Frank Darabont is suing AMC for unspecified but probably enormous damages, claiming he is being short changed via a form of “Hollywood Accounting.” Since AMC produces the show itself (unlike, say Breaking Bad and Mad Men, two other hits) AMC is is charging itself a very low licensing fee, meaning the show is not profitable. Kim Masters and Matthew Belloni have a comprehensive write-up on the suit and the many issues it raises:

The suit, filed Tuesday in New York state court and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, hints that a standoff over Darabont’s profit participation, which has been brewing since February 2011, might in part explain his abrupt dismissal in July of that year, only weeks into production of Walking Dead’s second season and two days after he had appeared at Comic-Con to promote the show. AMC never explained the firing publicly or, according to the suit, to Darabont himself.

Considering that Darabont once called the AMC execs “psychopaths,” his suing them is not very surprising.  THR has the complaint with a watermark, but there’s lots to chew on here, including Darabont’s own contract, in case you wonder what a contract for producing a TV show looks like.

[gview file=”http://comicsbeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Walking-Dead-Complaint-Filed.pdf”” profile=”2″ width=”475px”]

AMC has had lots of tussles with producers, most recently with Mad Men, it’s very popular take on Ad Age infidelities—that one ended with Producer Matthew Weiner getting a big new contract.

Darabont claims he was dismissed from the show before they had to increase his participation in the show’s profits at the end of Season 2. There was some talk at the time that AMC was trying to keep down the costs of the show, but it was speculated that meant fewer horrible zombies and not a crafty sweetheart licensing plan.

Although Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman isn’t part of the suit, Darabont is also claiming a share of the talk show spin-off Talking Dead, claiming it is a “derivative work.”

Comments

  1. Steve Did Go says:

    Still excited about these people doing Preacher?

  2. MBunge says:

    Darabont may have a case but it’s unfortunate that lawyers always shoot for the moon and wind up making their clients look like asses. Unless Darabont literally suggested the idea for Talking Dead, I don’t see how he can possible claim any stake in that.

    Mike

  3. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Darabont may have a case but it’s unfortunate that lawyers always shoot for the moon and wind up making their clients look like asses. Unless Darabont literally suggested the idea for Talking Dead, I don’t see how he can possible claim any stake in that.

    Someone didn’t read lol. Darabont is suing over Hollywood accounting on the production side that’s screwing him out of profit participation, not ownership.

  4. “now-dismissed suit by original artist Tony Moore”

    Wasn’t the Tony Moore suit settled out-of-court, not dismissed?

  5. AMC is just going to bring their “correct accounting books” showing Walking Dead still has yet to make a profit for AMC and in fact Mad Men & Breaking Bad has made more money combined.

    AKA why JMS still hasn’t made any money off of Babylon 5 thanks to the creative jiggering accountants of Warner Bros.

  6. hsssh says:

    “Hollywood Accounting” lawsuits aren’t rare but has anyone actually won one?

  7. Silly But True says:

    I’ve never really gotten a full picture, just anecdotes gleaned from mainly Hollywood press. My understanding is that Darabont had been pitching a television series about zombies for as much as 7 years. The stars aligned when TWD (comic) became a critical hit. It was then that Kirkman’s work got mapped to Darabont’s long-stewing television project. Then, the show becomes a huge hit, and Darabont gets shown the door.

    Is there somewhere that has accurate timelines of when major players became involved in “a zombie show” which ultimately became TWD?

    Thx in advance.

    Silly but True

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