Up, up and away ... apparently, that's what Warner Bros. was thinking when they allegedly cheated producers out of millions of dollars.
Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, the masterminds that created "Smallville" for the then-WB network almost 10 years ago, have filed a breach of contract suit against Warner Bros., claiming that the studio's self-dealing caused a massive loss in the show's profits. "Smallville" was developed by Warner Bros. Studios, and was licensed to The WB, and then to its successor, The CW.
According to the suit, that licensing took place at below-market ratings. The loss of income for the series also extended to international sales, further undercutting the worth of the show.
"Several series that are less popular than 'Smallville' were allocated a higher per-episode fee," the producers said in a statement.
Both producers are no longer affiliated with the series, departing after seven years of storytelling. However, if the suit is successful, both producers could stand to receive damages for all seven seasons of the show.
There have been several similar proceedings in recent years, alleging that studios have been dealing with their own television networks to snag a larger profit share through advertising rather than by shopping the series to the highest bidder. Many of those were settled out of court, including lawsuits filed by former "The X-Files" star David Duchovny against Fox.
This also marks another legal entanglement for the Superman property with the Warner Bros. studio. After a string of court battles last year, the court ruled that Warner Bros. will only retain the copyright to the Superman franchise until 2013, at which point sole ownership would revert to the Siegel and Schuster estates. Work has already commenced on a new feature film.
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