“The Walking Dead” is about to create history in the television industry; this time not for its incredible ratings, but for the most significant profits lawsuit valued at $280 million and more. The exact worth of “The Walking Dead” is yet to be determined. However, its estimated value per episode may be $30 million. Darabont and Creative Artists Agency claim AMC has not paid them in full by imputing low license fees for the highest-rated cable television series ever. The plaintiff has received $2.4 million per episode, lesser than its former hits like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and what current Emmy-nominee Better Call Saul now commands, despite inferior ratings for all three shows.
In the summary judgment oral arguments, both parties attacked their opponent’s character, work, eligibility to the claim, etc. Last week, in a five-hour trial, the New York Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten showed her disagreement and frustration by shouting at AMC’s attorney John Berlinski to stop repeating information or else she would hold him in contempt. The main point of discussion is whether AMC had breached an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing during the first negotiation of “The Walking Dead” deal with Darabont, whether plaintiff’s claim is exercisable or not, and if yes, then what should be the worth.
“The Walking Dead” comic book creator Robert Kirkman has joined Darabont in this suit. The attorneys argued over what standards apply to this license fees. Darabont and CAA’s lawyer Jerry Bernstein said, “The imputed license fees is the primary source of profits.” From the documents open to public and court submissions, it is understood that plaintiff has not received a major chunk of the profits that was entitled to them. The plaintiff argues that they are entitled to 20% of the profits, collectively. However, AMC wants to further reduce the show’s second-season budget by 25%. The plaintiff claims there is a conspiracy between AMC Network and AMC Studios.
In response, the defendant’s attorney, John Berlinski, explained to the judge that there wasn’t any transaction between the network and the studios. He also said that Darabont has a contract with the Network and they are the rights holder. He therefore maintained that there was no transaction between Network and Studios.
Despite the arguments, Bransten felt for the plaintiff and stated that she thinks they did not have enough time to respond properly. Defendant’s attorney raised the issue of whether Darabont is eligible to the claim as he was fired in the middle of the second season. The judge was certain about the involvement of AMC Studios. The next hearing will give us a clear idea of whether this claim is valid in the opinion of Justice Bransten.