AMC Networks has reached a $200 million settlement deal with Frank Darabont and CAA in the long-running profit participation lawsuit over “The Walking Dead.”
The deal calls for AMC to pay Darabont and CAA a total of $200 million. They will continue to receive a share of future profits from streaming deals tied to “The Walking Dead” and spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead.” But for all other “Walking Dead”-related content, the settlement buys out the plaintiffs’ rights.
AMC Networks disclosed the settlement in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Friday.
The $200 million settlement includes $57 million worth of profit participation revenue that AMC had intended to pay the plaintiffs under the terms of the original contracts for “The Walking Dead.” Darabont, the writer-director who launched the show in 2010 that became a juggernaut for AMC, filed suit against the company in 2013 after he had been dismissed from the show. When the lawsuits ensued, AMC held that profit participation revenue
After Darabont and CAA filed the first salvo, “Walking Dead” executive producers Gale Anne Hurd, comic book creator Nate Kirkman, showrunner Glen Mazzara and exec producers David Alpert and Charles Eglee filed a similar suit in 2017. That suit is still pending in Los Angeles Superior Court, with a trial expected to begin in November.
Meanwhile, Darabont filed another suit in 2018 claiming other abuses by AMC related to the profit participation deal. The settlement announced Friday settles both of those cases, which had been combined by the judge.
“The Walking Dead” lawsuit became the latest forum for conflict over traditional Hollywood accounting techniques. It also reflected the conflict spurred by industry consolidation as AMC served as both the production entity behind “Walking Dead” and the network, which led to the lawsuits claiming that AMC did not pay its own studio fair market value for the show that at its peak was the most-watched entertainment program in all of TV.
Litigation around allegations of sweetheart deals that short change profit participants have become a specialty for Hollywood litigators for years now ever since the regulatory landscape changed in the late 1990s to allow vertical integration of networks and studios.
More to come