“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” producers just got a little richer -- $50 million richer to be specific.
That’s how much Celador International, the creators of the game show, were awarded Monday in prejudgment interest by Judge Virginia Phillips. The amount is on top of the $270 million that a jury awarded the U.K. company in early July after a four-week trial against the Walt Disney Co.
Disney agreed to settle this aspect of the case now rather leave the sum up to Judge Phillips later.
Celador filed suit against Disney in 2004. The company contended that Disney and its subsidiaries ABC, Buena Vista Television and Valleycrest Productions conducted a series of slippery deals and secret arrangements that left the “Millionaire” creators short hundreds of millions in expected revenues and profits from the show when it made its U.S. debut in 1999.
The trial saw Disney CEO Robert Iger take the stand, as well as a cast of corporate characters including Ben Silverman and Greg Lipstone, in their capacity as former William Morris agents who brought the show to ABC; and Celador chair Paul Smith.
A Disney spokesman declined to comment to TheWrap on Monday’s events. However, as the expression says, this ain’t over ‘til it’s over. As is common in such cases, Disney has filed to have the July 7 jury verdict overturned. Failing that, the company has indicated it will move forward with an appeal.
“We are pleased that Disney recognized the wisdom of reaching this agreement rather than incurring the cost of litigating the prejudgment interest issue in the trial and appellate courts," Celador's lead attorney during the jury trial, Roman Silberfeld, said in a statement Monday.
Monday’s judgment also still leaves open the door to Celador being awarded other litigation costs and funds from the case.