The Walking Dead feature film bringing back Andrew Lincoln's long-missing Rick Grimes is coming to life in the spring. The film's producer and writer Scott Gimple, also the chief content officer of AMC's Walking Dead Universe, announced the franchise's first theatrical trilogy following Lincoln's season 9 departure from the mothership television show in November 2018. Planned as AMC original TV movies that would air on the network with the scope of feature films, telling an epic story about Rick in a new corner of the zombie apocalypse, AMC Networks and Skybound Entertainment would partner with Universal Pictures to bring the Walking Dead films to theaters.
"It does feel like there is a certain sense of positivity and the cavalry's coming with the vaccines," Lincoln said. "And there's a real sort of sense of a renewal, hopefully."
This past July, Walking Dead executive producer David Alpert said the film was "coming along in a big way" but would defer shooting until it was safe to do so.
"We can't shoot right now, so that's just the big thing holding us back," he said during the virtual Skybound Xpo over the summer. "We are desperate to get back into production and get everything going, but we have something really exciting, really unique, really different, and can't wait to get it going. We just have to wait for it to be safe."
Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, who penned the film's screenplay with Gimple, added work was continuing behind the scenes and that extra time allowed by industry-wide shutdowns means "the pandemic is going to make a lot of movies better."
The Rick Grimes feature film is "chief among them," Kirkman said, "just because we're getting a lot more time to cook this thing and make sure it's perfect."
And Gimple, who told ComicBook.com that Lincoln is "super involved" with the project and "itching to get back" to the Rick Grimes role, assured fans the film is still on the way and on course for a theatrical release despite the pandemic's impact on the exhibition industry.
"Because we work in television, we thought we would be working on the second one right now. Movies take a long time, but it'll be worth the wait. It is moving forward," Gimple said in an update during The Walking Dead Holiday Special. "The COVID time kind of slowed things down anyways, but we're using that time to go back to the lab and make it as great as possible ... it's happening."