To casual viewers, the biggest battle involving The Walking Dead might be Rick and Negan's All Out War, or humanity vs. the walkers. But others might be aware of the ongoing legal conflict between the TV series developer Frank Darabont and AMC, which stems from the filmmaker's sudden exit back in Season 2. Now, Darabont and talent agency CAA are doubling down with a second (and concurrent) lawsuit against the network, allegedly fueled by recently discovered financial information that could lead to many millions of dollars changing hands.
Unless a judge immediately throws this case out, however, it will likely take several years to get to the point when actual money and actual hands are required. No one should count on anything getting thrown out, though, since a lot of data here would be damaging if legitimate. Frank Darabont and CAA recently completed an audit of AMC's financial records, and according to THR, it was allegedly discovered that AMC was misreporting even more revenue numbers than previously thought, and is/was also failing to include various licensing fees that Darabont and others should probably have been privy to. The original 2013 lawsuit, also tied to lost profits, is currently awaiting a decision on whether it will go to trial or not, and that lawsuit can't be adjusted to include what allegedly came out of the audit. Thus, the second lawsuit.
To go a bit deeper into the claims being brought against AMC, the plaintiffs are saying that tens of millions of dollars were diverted from AMC's record-keeping, claiming the network is only reporting 20% of the money earned from The Walking Dead's iTunes sales. As well, some product integration fees reportedly weren't being reported at all, specifically from Hyundai and Gerber, and the lawsuit also says that Sundance International Channel, which falls under the AMC Networks umbrella, is paying a lower than average licensing fee, and that various expenses reported highly inflated the actual costs.
Interestingly, Frank Darabont's latest lawsuit directly ties into the complaint filed by Walking Dead comic creator Robert Kirkman, who also hit AMC up for lost profits along with current and former executive producers Gale Anne Hurd, Dave Alpert and Glen Mazzara. Kirkman & Co.'s suit made public the deal he signed with AMC when the TV show first got sold, which revealed Kirkman's contract featured a different provision from what Darabont had, and it allegedly went unreported during Darabont's earlier court proceedings. If legit, that could mean AMC was in breach of contract with Darabont, who is also seeking judgment to be declared entitled to receive the same kind of licensing fee as Kirkman.
Needless to say, this isn't the kind of open and shut courtroom ordeal that can be explained away on a single TV episode of Law & Order: Hilltop Colony. It's been four years since Frank Darabont first brought legal action against AMC, and we're still waiting to see if a trial will go down, so Team Family will probably be completely different by the time this lawsuit gains traction. Of course, The Walking Dead has proven time and again that anything can happen, so maybe everything will soon be settled fairly and gracefully. But if you read those explosive emails that predated Darabont's firing, you know that outcome is the long shot.
Until then, don't forget The Walking Dead returns for the back half of Season 8 on Sunday, February 25, at 9:00 p.m. ET. And bookmark our midseason premiere schedule to see when all the other horror dramas and courtroom procedurals will be popping up in primetime.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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