The Walking Dead has been a huge hit for AMC, to the point that the zombie apocalypse series is pretty much responsible for keeping the network competitive on the small screen. Unfortunately for original showrunner and show developer Frank Darabont, he hasn't reaped any of the financial benefits from the show's success. He filed a lawsuit against AMC that has been very public and very ugly, and now the suit has revealed just how much Darabont thinks he's owed for his work on The Walking Dead. The filmmaker and his agents are seeking $280 million in damages.
No, that's not a typo. Frank Darabont and the CAA agency are seeking $280 million from AMC for allegedly failing to pay him his due contingent profits. The original suit back in 2013 filed for "unspecified money damages" based on the accusation that AMC's decision late in the game to produce The Walking Dead itself, rather than giving production rights to another company, meant that AMC could circumvent paying individuals who were involved in the profit participation program.
The profit participation program was designed to calculate payment after production costs were factored in. THR reports Darabont contends that AMC's decision to produce The Walking Dead enabled it to license the series to its cable affiliate for an insufficient fee. For its part, AMC contends that the license fee had been negotiated ahead of time.
The whopping $280 million is calculated from the fact that Frank Darabont had originally been contracted for as much as 10% of Walking Dead profits after production costs had been deducted. $280 million as 10% indicates that Darabont and Co. believe that the show has made billions of dollars to date.
Another sticky wicket between Frank Darabont and AMC concerns the circumstances of Darabont's dismissal from The Walking Dead. He held the reins of the series for all of Season 1 and the first half of Season 2, and Darabont reports that he worked on all thirteen second season episodes in some capacity or other. AMC evidently disputes that claim and asserts that Darabont did not work full-time on the series in Season 2 and therefore was/is not entitled to the agreed-upon profit share for an entire season.
There have been conflicting accounts of why exactly Frank Darabont was fired from The Walking Dead during Season 2. According to a deposition from Darabont, AMC accused him of not meeting with directors as required of him. Budget issues, such as on reported instance where AMC demanded more from the show for smaller budgets, also came between them. Darabont also gained support from Glen Mazzara, who took over showrunning duties after his departure. Mazzara stated that Darabont was booted from The Walking Dead because of a personal rift between Darabont and Robert Kirkman, as well as Darabont and AMC.
We'll have to wait and see if a judge allows the case to move on to the trial stage. If so, we should find out whether or not Frank Darabont can make the case that he's owed $280 million for his treatment by AMC. The trial won't happen until at least 2018, so it could be a long time before we find out what happens next. At least we'll have more of The Walking Dead in the near future. Season 7 will premiere on Sunday, October 23 at 9 p.m. ET.