Frank Darabont Files New Lawsuit Against AMC Over ‘The Walking Dead’

By August 5, 2015
  12

The existence of “The Walking Dead” as a television series is greatly owed to the efforts of writer/director Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption). Darabont’s discovery of the original comic book series in a specialty store is what caused him to seek out series creator Robert Kirkman to develop it into a television series, which was picked up by AMC partially because of his involvement. After serving as writer and director of the pilot episode and showrunner for the first season, budget cuts from the network (twice as many episodes for 20% less money) and a strained relationship with network executives forced Darabont off of the show.

Now, over a year-and-a-half after the first legal squabbles between Darabont, his agency, and AMC were started, Darabont is going after the network hard. According to a new report at Deadline, Frank Darabont and his agency CAA have filed a new complaint in court stemming from wrongful termination by AMC over Darabont’s position on the show’s first season, as well as calling the upcoming spin-off series “Fear the Walking Dead” a “derivative production” of the original series that the director developed, alleging that he is owed compensation because of it. The talk show “Talking Dead,” hosted by Chris Hardwick and often airing right after new episodes of the series, is also named in the complaint as a derivative production for which Darabont is owed payment as the primary developer of the original series.

Darabont argues that AMC’s language regarding “Fear the Walking Dead” is also purposefully misleading, as the network has called it a “companion series” in their pre-release materials as opposed to a spin-off. This is, Darabont feels, an attempt to deny him payment stemming from “Fear’s” position as a spin-off of the main show, without which the new show would likely not exist.

Damages that Darabont and CAA are seeking reportedly total in the tens of millions of dollars. While this has dragged in its current form since at least December of 2013, this is unlikely to affect the production schedules of any of the shows, whether its the upcoming sixth season of “The Walking Dead,” the in-development second season of “Fear the Walking Dead,” or “Talking Dead.” Still, it should prove interesting to see what a court could decide, since it seems that both sides in the lawsuit have a fervor and overall language that suggests an immense, vested interest in the future of “The Walking Dead” franchise.

For more on this as it takes shape, keep an eye on GeekNation.

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.
  • David Johnson

    That Man deserves to get PAID!!!!!!!

    • For what? Typical Hollywood bullshit leech, taking ideas from Comic Books and trying to call them his own? He did his work for the first season and got paid for it! That’s all he deserves!

      • Steve, that’s not how it works. It take a lot of time, energy and resources just to sell a show to a network. If he found, optioned, developed and pitched the show he deserves to be on the project in perpetuity. Studios try and screw over producers all the time and it is rare that someone has the guts and the funds to go againt them without the fear of reprisals or getting blacklisted.

        • Unless it was written in a contract, no sir, he doesn’t deserve it! That is how it works! Unless he can prove breach of contract, he has no case. TWD was not HIS baby! He didn’t birth it. He doesn’t hold the copyrights. End of story. I can not see how defending yet another litigious jerk with an ego can be a good thing either. It’s people like him that cause entertainment to be so expensive these days!

          • You clearly have no understanding of the way an option works. Also, rights don’t always involve copyright ownership. If Darabont is the producer that made the show happen he is deserving of staying on as. Furthermore, I can assure you that there is a contract of he and CAA are suing – The studio is clearly trying to change the language, attempting to avoid what he is entitled to. He is not the reason entertainment is so expensive, it’s is frivolous spending byvthe studios. BTW, what are you even talking about… How much did you pay to watch the walking Dead? Don’t confuse TV budgets with costly feature film marketing. Furthermore, the creator of a comicbook, however deserving of respect, could not be more different from the producer/developer of a TV show.

          • Excuse the hell out of me but I DO pay high cable bills because entertainment costs so much money! It’s not just about movies. People who are out to sue for every penny they can get is a HUGE cost not just in the entertainment business but also in healthcare. It all get’s passed on to the customers.

          • You’re confusing studio and cable company greed with the rights of an individual that created/developed a product.

            You feel he should lose out on what is owed to him because you think your cable bill is too high? Do you know how often studios get sued because of unethical “studio accounting”?

            Advertisers is who has to pay those high entertainment costs theough higher ad rates based on viewership, not the consumer (directly anyway). There are way more factors involved that drive up consumer costs.

            If you’re referring to frivolous lawsuits that drive up costs in any industry, then yes, I am in full agreement… But this isn’t one of them.

            Despite however rich he may be, in comparison to the studio he is the little guy that someone is trying to screw… End of story.

          • I would agree with you if you didn’t consistently put thoughts in my head that aren’t there. I’m not “Confusing studio and cable company Greed”! I’m talking about overly litigious people suing over the least little thing they think they can get away with. PERIOD! I also don’t “Feel” he should lose out what is owed because my cable bill is to high. You have a serious issue with seeing things in my writings that are not there and you seem to be taking it personally that I think his case is just another case of greed going after greedier. I’m not saying the studios are pure and holy, far from it, but I still see this as just a greedy attempt at sticking it to the consumer.

          • This is what you wrote – It’s impossible to have a respectable discussion if one denies what they previously said or starts blaming the other:

            “For what? Typical Hollywood bullshit leech, taking ideas from Comic Books and trying to call them his own? He did his work for the first season and got paid for it! That’s all he deserves!”

            I’d say that is pretty cut-and-dry to what your point was.

          • David Johnson

            If Darabont didn’t have a contract @SteveArmstrong why would the show still have His name in the opening credits also. Everything I’ve read He approached Kirkman to try to get the Comic made into a Mini Series originally. While its a great comic series Kirkman may (he also might only be doing small CC) have been in Artist Alley at SDCC if it wasn’t for Darabont. Glad I came back & checked this Disqus Thread!!!

          • David Johnson

            If Darabont didn’t have a contract why would the show still have His name in the opening credits also. Everything I’ve read He approached Kirkman to try to get the Comic made into a Mini Series originally. While its a great comic series Kirkman may (he also might only be doing small CC) have been in Artist Alley at SDCC if it wasn’t for Darabont. Glad I came back & checked this Disqus Thread!!!

      • David Johnson

        His name was still on the opening credits last season! Kirkman would probably be doing signings at the occasional Comic Con if it wasn’t for Darabont.