Disney loses ‘Millionaire’ appeal
December 4, 2012
By Chris Forrester
Back in 2010 Walt Disney Co was ordered to pay damages of $319 million to ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” game show producer Celador International. On December 3rd a US Court of Appeal denied Disney’s request for a new trial in the controversial case. UK-based Celador developed the ‘Millionaire’ format.
The original ruling was based on Celador’s argument that ABC and Buena Vista Television had failed to adhere to the ‘Millionaire’ agreement with Celador. Celador argued that ABC and affiliate Valleycrest Productions failed to include ABC’s profits when calculating the amount of profit participation due to Celador. It was also successfully argued that ABC had failed to correctly account for costs related to merchandising and other elements connected with the high-rated show.
A five-week jury trial found in favour of Celador, and awarded almost $270 million. That has now grown by about $50 million with interest.
The appeal judges admitted that the original contract was ambiguous with regard to merchandising claims, but nevertheless the assumptions relied upon to project damages provided a reasonable basis for the jury’s award.