AMC’s The Walking Dead has seen its fair share of controversy: everything from advocates for less violence on television to comic book fans upset at the many divergences the show’s writers and producers have taken from the source material has ensured that there is always something to talk about when it comes to The Walking Dead.
The latest controversy to hit the extremely popular cable show is much more serious, however. Frank Darabont, who was the original creator of The Walking Dead television adaptation and wrote, produced and directed the first season of the show before being fired by AMC, is now suing AMC. His reason? Darabont’s claim is that AMC has scammed and denied him profits from the show, which has achieved immense popularity in its last four seasons.
According to the accusations filed by Darabont’s legal team, Darabont is accusing AMC (as a production company) of charging themselves, or AMC (as a cable network) an “artificially low” license fee for the rights to air the show. The contract Darabont signed with AMC states that he will receive 20% of the “Modified Adjusted Gross Receipts” for the show. These receipts are a combination of any money brought in by the production–minus all production costs.
Darabont’s lawsuit accuses AMC of deliberately choosing to use a low license fee for the show in order to ensure that there was a deficit in the MAG receipts. In the lawsuit, Darabont’s legal team pointed to another AMC show, Mad Men, as an example of AMC’s deceptive practices. Mad Men, which only has 25% of the audience ratings of The Walking Dead, has a license fee of $3 million per episode, while The Walking Dead fee is only $1.45 million…
In the first two seasons since Darabont’s departure, AMC charged itself about $49 million dollars to air the show–but the production costs for these two seasons were $104.5 million dollars. This means that there was t
echnically a $55 million dollar deficit in the Modified Adjusted Gross Receipts. And this deficit continues to climb with each season of the show, meaning that while AMC is reaping the benefits of the show’s popularity, Darabont—the creator of the show and the writer, producer and director of its first season—is receiving nothing.
So far, AMC has not made a public statement about the lawsuit or the accusations.