AMC wants the $200 million profits lawsuit from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd and fellow executive producers to be D.O.A.

“Having lost resoundingly in state court on different theories, Plaintiffs are at it again, now asking this Court to hand them a multimillion-dollar windfall through a new argument that finds no support in the plain language or purpose of the contractual provision (known as a ‘most favored nation’ or ‘MFN’ clause) on which Plaintiffs rely,” declares the James Dolan-led company in a motion to dismiss memorandum filed late on January 13 in federal court (read it here).

Now if you are confused, let’s be clear: this is not about the TWD profit participation alleged sleight of hand action that Kirkman, Hurd, David Alpert, Charles Eglee and ex-showrunner Glen Mazzara filed in 2017 against AMC. After being sliced and diced in a mini-trial in 2020, and then hacked up further by a now retired LA Superior Court judge, the remnants of that trial bound matter are now going behind the closed doors of arbitration, as Deadline revealed on January 9.

Over a decade of many a TWD profits lawsuits, this breach of contract action that AMC is trying to get tossed out is the one over “two faced treatment” that Kirkman and company filed in LASC on November 14 last year. Shifted over to federal court in mid-December due to jurisdictional issues, this lawsuit is an attempt by the same EPs to have the modified adjusted gross receipts definition that they say was accorded to original TWD showrunner Frank Darabont also given to them.

After suing AMC in late 2013, just as TWD was moving into its blockbuster years, the Shawshank Redemption director and CAA ended years of bitter legal battle suddenly in July 2021. As a NYC trial loomed, AMC settled the whole thing with a $200 million “cash payment” and “some future revenue sharing related to certain future streaming exhibition” to Darabont and his superagency.

Now, looking to pitch their POV before Judge Fernando L. Aenlle-Rocha at a March 10 hearing, AMC say comparing the Darabont deal with the CAA-repped Kirkman, Hurd, and crew demands is a case of false equivalency.

“Because the Darabont Settlement did not involve the creation of a more favorable MAGR definition—or of any MAGR definition at all—the MFNs in Plaintiffs’ contracts were not triggered, and Plaintiffs’ claims should be dismissed,” say AMC’s Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP attorneys in their paperwork last week. “An unambiguous contractual provision must be given its plain meaning,” they continue in terms very similar to their initial response to the suit a couple of months ago.

“Under the plain and unambiguous terms of Plaintiffs’ contracts, the MFNs are only triggered if another profit participant receives a more ‘favorable’. . . MAGR definition’ than Plaintiffs,” the motion to dismiss memo adds. “Because the Darabont settlement does not create a more favorable definition of MAGR, Plaintiffs’ claims fail as a matter of law.”

Whether that convinces Judge Aenlle-Rocha to kick the matter to the curb or whether this goes to trial remains to be seen.

While AMC’s requested March 10 hearing on the motion to dismiss hasn’t yet been put on the case’s calendar, there is a March 17 scheduling conference inked in.

That’s approximately three months before the NYC-set The Walking Dead: Dead City, the first of a trio of new spinoffs from the now concluded mothershow, is supposed to debut. Unlike Fear the Walking Dead, Tales of the Walking Dead, and The Walking Dead: World Beyond series, Kirkman and Hurd poignantly have no active role in the Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan-led Dead City, nor the Norman Reedus starring Daryl Dixon and the 2024 premiering Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln spinoff.


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