Lawsuit over <i>Smallville</i> profits heads to jury trial

A jury will decide whether Warner Bros. Television owes the creators of Smallville as much as $100 million in allegedly lost profits for the long-running drama.

Series creators and executive producers Miles Millar and Alfred Gough and series producers Tollin/Robbins Productions sued WBTV in 2010, accusing the company of licensing Smallville to its co-owned WB and CW networks "for unreasonably low" fees, thereby cutting the plaintiffs out of tens of millions of dollars. They amended their claims of breach of contract and breach of good faith and fair dealing earlier this year to include the allegation that WBTV's sister company DC Comics was brought into the profit pool without the contractually required approval, greatly reducing the plaintiffs' profit participation.

Hollywood, Esq. reports that on Tuesday a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied a motion by WBTV for summary judgment, leaving the case for a jury to decide.

Although Warner Bros. argued in a hearing last week that it had "absolute discretion to determine the terms of its license agreements and to do business with its affiliates," Judge Michael Johnson found that the plaintiffs demonstrated "triable issues" regarding WBTV's contractual obligations. A trial was originally scheduled to begin Oct. 9, but it will likely be delayed until sometime next year.

Smallville aired for 10 seasons, from 2001 to 2011. Gough and Millar left the series in 2008 after seven seasons.

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