Frank Darabont, creator of TV’s hit drama “The Walking Dead,” filed a lawsuit this week against AMC and accused the cable channel’s parent company of cheating him out of millions of dollars’ worth of profits earned by the zombie apocalypse horror series.
On Dec. 18, CNN reported that Darabont’s suit claims that AMC, which produces the series and carries it on its cable channel, “charged its own cable network an ‘artificially low’ license fee to carry the show.”
"The sole goal of this sham transaction is to enhance the profits of the parent company by minimizing the revenues that go into the 'pool' of funds for the show's profit participants," the complaint said.
"Despite four seasons of unprecedented programming success and profitability for defendants, Darabont has not received and may never receive one dollar in profits for developing the series," the suit said.
Frank Darabont, credited with developing “The Walking Dead” TV series after working on the show for years before eventually writing, directing and producing the first season of the series for AMC, helped create a "monumental hit" for the cable channel and its parent company when the show debuted in 2012, according to the lawsuit.
AMC fired Darabont during the show’s second season so that “AMC could avoid negotiating a new deal with him,” according to the lawsuit.
Based on the methods AMC employs to calculate the show’s licensing fees, the lawsuit states that Darabont and others have already been deprived of tens of millions of dollars.
The lawsuit points to differences between how AMC charges its own company for each episode of “The Walking Dead,” versus how AMC charges another company fees for another AMC series, “Mad Men,” which brings in a much smaller number of viewers.
For example, the production company for “Mad Men” receives $3 million per episode from AMC, while “The Walking Dead” only receives $1.45 million per episode, which according to the lawsuit is evidence of AMC’s "improper and abusive practice of 'self-dealing.'"
"License fees can be manipulated, however, when the entity producing the show and the entity broadcasting it are controlled by the same parent company, or where the network owns and/or controls the production company," the complaint said.
Darabont developed “The Walking Dead” for AMC based upon the popular comic book series of the same name created by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard.
For more on the "The Walking Dead" for 2014, see the video accompanying this article.
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