The Walking Dead veteran director and executive producer Greg Nicotero says industry-wide shutdowns caused by coronavirus allows chief content officer Scott Gimple and franchise creator Robert Kirkman, who are scripting the first Walking Dead feature film, more time to develop the big screen adventure for Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes. Currently planned as a trilogy to be theatrically distributed by Universal Pictures, the untitled Walking Dead feature films will reveal what happened to Rick and Pollyanna McIntosh's Anne, formerly Jadis, after they disappeared from Virginia aboard a Civic Republic Military helicopter.
"From what I understand from Mr. Gimple, the script is well underway. I've looked at a couple of early drafts, but I haven't seen anything lately, but from what I understand they're digging away at it," Nicotero said in an update to SYFY WIRE. "One thing about this kind of situation is people that work at home… you know, writers… they're able to take advantage of this time, and it's a good time."
Once productions are able to safely resume, Nicotero added, "There's going to be a lot of material that’s going to be ready to go, because everyone's getting scripts, and getting stuff just right to the point where they can get it ready before you start shooting."
Revealing the status of the Rick Grimes movie in late March, Gimple told The Hollywood Reporter the project, first announced following Lincoln's final episode of the television series in November 2018, was "totally in the writing phase, the phone call phase and the discussion phase."
"We've been fine-tuning that and playing around with it for a while. That's where we're at now," Gimple said. "We were in a stage that just required final drafts and rooms."
The coronavirus crisis has so far forced a pause in production on the sixth season of spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, delayed the Nicotero-directed season finale of The Walking Dead, caused filming on the new season to be postponed indefinitely, and pushed back the series premiere of The Walking Dead: World Beyond until the fall.
"Like everyone else, once we're given the all clear, we're ready to roar back. Just like with everybody else, it's this weird moment of pause," Gimple told The Hollywood Reporter in March, just days after the three Walking Dead shows entered into various stages of pause. "There are so many people who work on these shows. Between the three shows, we're talking about [numbering] in the thousands. We want everyone safe and healthy. That's the deal. We all have to pull together to make sure everyone is safe and healthy."
In November 2018, Gimple projected a 2019 production start for the first Walking Dead movie, saying the "big" scale features are "going to take a minute to make." AMC and Universal have yet to disclose a time frame for when cameras might begin rolling.
The Walking Dead will air its Season 10 finale as a special episode on AMC later this year. For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.