The COVID-19 pandemic is the cause of a longer-than-expected wait for the Walking Dead feature announced for movie theaters, but producers are taking advantage of delays to punch-up Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes return. Unveiled nearly two years ago as the first in a trilogy of AMC original films, the as-yet-untitled project evolved into a full-fledged feature planned for theatrical exhibition under Universal Pictures. Scripted by producer Scott Gimple and franchise creator Robert Kirkman, the Walking Dead feature film is still in the works and continuing the course for theatrical release despite the grim prognosis facing movie theaters in the wake of coronavirus.
Tying the feature film franchise to newly launched two-season spinoff The Walking Dead: World Beyond is "absolutely still the plan," Gimple told Looper. Created by Gimple and showrunner Matt Negrete, the limited event series will air 20 episodes across two seasons before concluding — presumably with a direct tie-in to the big screen.
"Everything is changing all over the place, so you never know. But we're working on it and moving forward. If we need to make more, we will," Gimple said about the possibility of prolonging World Beyond. "This is the first one that we've done in such a short way. I mean, granted, a lot of shows do this now, but we had a lot of story and have a lot of story to get to, so we'll see happens."
Asked if characters appearing in World Beyond might cross over into the films, or vice versa, Gimple answered, "Anything is possible."
"I think it's probable not to see much crossover in these first movies — but, again, everything's changing. And this is taking a lot longer now than we expected," Gimple said about the planned film trilogy. "I'm just talking from a COVID-19 point of view, this big chunk of time we didn't anticipate. I think Robert Kirkman said it best: We're using this time to really go over it and really road test it and really consider all the different directions we're going in."
He added: "So, we're still in the lab in some ways. We've done a lot of work on it, but we're trying to perfect it at the moment."
The Civic Republic Military is heavily involved in World Beyond, and CRM leader Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Kublek (Julia Ormond) is suspected to be keeping secrets about Rick's mysterious disappearance. It was this group who abducted Rick from The Walking Dead in Season 9, and Gimple has already confirmed the film franchise will unravel the "vast mythology" behind the far-reaching CRM.
In July, Gimple told ComicBook.com that Lincoln is "super involved" with the film and "itching to get back" to the Walking Dead Universe. For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.