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Smallville creators sue Warner Bros. over licensing deals

"Smallville," Season 9

"Smallville," Season 9

Smallville, the long-running television series that’s already part of the dispute between Warner Bros. and the Siegel family, is now at the center of another legal battle.

The Hollywood Reporter‘s legal blog, THR, Esq., reports that Smallville creators and longtime executive producers Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, and series co-producer Tollin/Robbins Prods., have sued Warner Bros. Television, claiming the division made license-fee deals with The WB Television Network and its successor The CW Television Network that “were not arms-length.”

The lawsuit, filed on Friday, accuses Warner Bros. of licensing Smallville for broadcast on its co-owned WB and CW networks “for unreasonably low, below-market license fees, resulting in lower gross revenues for the series and less compensation for plaintiffs, and failing to renegotiate the series’ license fee to cover its production cost.” The plaintiffs also say Warner Bros. sold the series to foreign markets in a package with other, less-successful shows, resulting in a misallocation of licensing fees.

Although the complaint doesn’t specify damages, THR, Esq. notes that, “given the allegations and the longevity of the series, they could total in the tens of millions of dollars.”

The claim brings to mind one made in 2008 by the family of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, who accused DC Comics with striking a “sweetheart deal” with parent company Warner Bros. when licensing characters for Smallville and Superman Returns, a violation of the terms of their profit-sharing agreement. However, in July 2009, a judge ruled against the Siegels, determining that DC and Warner Bros. participated in a “fair market deal.”

Smallville, which debuted in 2001, was renewed earlier this month for a 10th season. Gough and Millar left the series in 2008 after seven seasons.

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Comments

17 Comments

Everyone’s always suing Warner/DC.

Shock and horror.

Those non-arm’s length deals are also possibly what allows the show to make it to 10 seasons.

bigbadbruins69

March 27, 2010 at 4:39 pm

I’d have sex with Smallville

No, I’d have to side with Smallville..no action figures, no t-shirts…whas upwit dat?

Arthur Fussyboots

March 27, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I’d have to agree with Reginald. Who cares? Who the eff cares?

The consummate irony of this is THEY DIDN’T CREATE SMALLVILLE! Tim McCanlies created Gotham about a young Bruce Wayne and was then ask to develop his “Smallville” story from that into a series, which they then took from him, got sued, settles (aka, “lost”) and that’s why you see his name as “Creative Consultant” or whatever in the credits.

In an unrelated note, this is exactly why Chris Carter and David Duchovny sued over The X-Files. Cheap syndication deals that cost them money.

I_Captain Blanco

March 27, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Totally understandable why Millar and Gough would sue over this. After all, it’s not like their post-SMALLVILLE careers are likely to make them millionaires…

Okay, I can understand suing for misallocation of syndication revinue as it pertains to the contract Gough and Millar signed to begin with, but how can you sue over the terms of a contract (no matter what the percieved market value of said terms was or is) after you’ve already agreed to that which you were offered? If it was not “arm’s length” to begin with, why would you sign it?

I’m going to have to side with the creators this time. I have been seeing crappy advertising and distribution of Smallville especially since the creators left. Smallville has potential and still brings in great revenue with the shitty treatment. No doubt these guys suing would’ve made millions if the CW/WB didn’t have such unreasonable business…eh not even worthy of being called tactics

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t want there to be any trouble with a 10th season running. If having horrible advertisements and distribution methods is what keeps the show alive, I’m 100% for it.

not surprised this is happening for super man seems to be worth so much in licensing fees and given that dc has had a history of trying to screw the creators of some of the cash cow. like superman. not surprising given how well small vile has done that the creators would want their fair share since they helped make the show what it is. they are just wanting what they are do under contract. over royalties .as for figures. the first wave of small vile figues did not sell . so dc direct cut their losses on doing figures and the last batch were so bad that . small vile toys do not really profit unless Mattel has the four horseman do new ones.

And yet it continues to inexplicably renewed every year?

Bunch of ungrateful whiners…

this is fu*&% ridiculous

I cant tell if Alfred Gough and Miles Millar are being bottom feeders (since there doing such a bang-up job in hollywood now) or if theres an actual reason for this lawsuit………….

I love it when a team of creators no longer associated with a property that improved in all ways with their departure uses hindsight and speculation to figure losses they incurred by deals struck other than their own contracts.

These two need to quit looking behind and do something new to get paid.

Part of the thing you have to understand here is this, A long running show like SMALLVILLE is eligible for syndication that could leave the show on TV for decades. The thing about that is that generally the stars and creators of these shows are part of the syndication deals. They make royalties out of these shows for the rest of their lives as long as the show remains on TV in some form.
With the type of deals DC/WARNERS made, they will affect the royalties received by those people over the long run.
so in context, imagine you worked a job for 20 years making $100,000.00 a year. and your retirement should be say 50% of that income with the inclusion of royalties or profit sharing. then you suddenly, in the 11th hour find out that your bosses made some back room deals that benefit them in some way but take your $50,000 retirement and reduce it without your knowledge to about $35,000 a year.
That is a big loss of money. Especially over the long term.

Zor-El of Argo

March 29, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Alas, the worlds greatest super-hero is managed by people who are completely devoid of the very ethics The Man Of Steel himself stands for.

I know 10 seasons is normaly the most a show will stay in production, that being said I’m greatfull it ran 10yrs, BUT, I wish they hadn’t canceled it and kept it in production. SMALLVILLE and 2 1/2 Men was pretty much the only two things I had to look forward to each week. SMALLVILLE got canceled, went into syndication on TNT at 12p eastern 11a central, NOW they are going to change its time slot to 5a eastern 4a central, WTF IS WRONG WITH THESE IDIOTS! I honestly believe the ones in charge of syndication are plain ol’ STUPID. SMALLVILLE is 5,000% better than charmed, angel, supernatural and las vegas. and theres no measurment big enough to cut all the reality TV CRAP. They are going to start runing it when most people are asleep? Thats briliant. 2 1/2 is watchable BUT thats about the best rating you could say for it since Charlie is not there. WB and CBS need to get their heads out of their ass. I mean come on, the least they could do is try a spinoff with green arrow / Justin Hartley and have Clark/Tom Superman/The Blur geast star every now and then. I get ENOUGH reality in the ‘real world’ I dont want to turn my TV on for the same, TV is a breif reality escape hatch. But the reality TV JUNK is clogging all the channels up about like a over sized turd in the toilet. Modern day TV is crap, you no longer need to rent porn, just tune to any channel any time and its getting closer to being porn TV all the time, its total BS.

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