‘Smallville’ Creators Hit Obstacle in Warner Bros. Lawsuit

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 9th, 2013 at 12:34 am,

Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, co-creators of the long-running Smallville, filed a suit against Warner Bros. in March of this year. They claimed that the company had signed distribution and syndication agreements with other companies that unfairly devalued the show, costing the producers and their production company millions. The two cited a breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, and sued to recover some of the profits they claimed had been lost.

Their case took a major blow this week: an LA judge has accepted Warner Bros.’ position that they do not owe a fiduciary duty, which makes it very unlikely that the claimants will get all the damages they seek.

There are a lot of parties and insider talk in this suit, but the premise is pretty simple: Millar, Gough and Tollin/Robbins Productions allege that Time Warner (and by extension Warner Bros. Television and The CW) made distribution deals for Smallville to its partners and foreign customers at discount rates, failing to maximize the potential profits for the show and its creators.

The plaintiffs filed this as a breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract, a tactic often seen in stockholder class-action lawsuits. Warner Bros. filed a motion to dismiss the fiduciary claims, citing that it didn’t owe a duty to the creators, due to the nature of the contract and their payment – the producers were payed a flat fee plus dividends from profits, but they would never have been penalized if the show hadn’t been profitable.

Warner Bros. claimed this made the deal a venture agreement (not a joint venture as the plaintiffs claim), and since the producers never shared any financial risk, no fiduciary duty exists. Judge Michael Johnson agreed, and the claims have been dismissed.

smallville original cast Smallville Creators Hit Obstacle in Warner Bros. Lawsuit

This doesn’t mean that the suit is over; Millar and Gough intend to appeal the judge’s decision, and the breach of contract claims will continue unabated. But the prospects for the producers are not good after the initial ruling. Even assuming that they won a suit based on a violated contract, they’d be awarded a fraction of the damages they asked for initially. With appeals and counter-filings from both sides, the suit is likely to stretch on for months at the very least.

Smallville airs Friday at 8 PM on The CW.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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  1. Obviously they care about their money, but how does this affect production of the show?

    • As far as I can tell, it really doesn’t. They’ve got no reason to leave since they’re still making plenty of money, and I doubt they’re interested in any sort of foul play after almost a decade of production.

    • @ Ojnid – I don’t think it does, sir.

    • It doesn’t affect the show at all, they haven’t been involved with the show for 3 years.

  2. You know for such a nice guy,Superman sure is the cause a few headaches.

  3. The show is at an end as is the gravy train. Thus the lawsuit.

  4. The show still goes on in its final season and AlMiles have not helmed the show since the 7th season. Smalville will gets its well-deserved ending without any interference.

  5. Let’s not forget that there was an original creator of SMALLVILLE. He get’s paid for each episode but hasn’t worked a day on the actual show. His name is Tim McCanlies.

    http://www.kryptonsite.com/brucewayne/outline.htm

    • didn’t know bout that

  6. I got involved in Smallville very late in the series. If I had been a fan early on, I would have been seriously upset that Supes hadn’t learned to fly. To go 10 seasons with only a handful of flights, I might have started a lawsuit myself. Regarding this season, I was really hoping to see more encore episodes involving the other JSA’s and The League. Nice to see the marriage on, but I really hope we get some serious hero scenes as this series wraps up.

  7. Good insight. @ soundtrackwhore, just my opinion but I enjoy Clark’s struggle to accept his path in this incarnation of Superman. Learning to fly is the final step for him to fully accept who he is and I think when he finally comes to terms and puts on the cape it will be great

  8. Ironically the show’s been all about the comics after these two hacks moved on so screw them. Glad their lawsuit won’t stand much of a chance in the future.

    • No more ridiculous Clana drama. They basically ruined Kristin Kreuk’s chances of ever being taken seriously as an actress. Her time on Smallville will be a millstone around her neck forever, IMO.

  9. Someone should sue Millar and Gough for inflicting Season 7 of Smallville on the poor unsuspecting world.

    • And season 4 and season 6 for that matter.