‘The Walking Dead’ Creator Robert Kirkman “Heavily Involved” with Rick Grimes Movie Trilogy

The Walking Dead creator and series executive producer Robert Kirkman is “heavily involved” with the Andrew Lincoln-led Rick Grimes television movie trilogy, chief content officer Scott Gimple told the New York Times.

The series of films, the first of which will be penned by Gimple, are “not just longer episodes,” Gimple said, adding the films will tell an original Rick Grimes story and feature heftier production values when compared to the ongoing television show.

Lincoln, who had a say in how his exit from the show after eight-and-a-half seasons was handled, suggested the first film could in part be inspired by a film “greatly” admired by the star: 1992 Clint Eastwood western Unforgiven.

“There’s something about Eastwood, who he is as a gunslinger, as an iconic kind of American hero, rolling around in pig swill at the beginning of the movie,” Lincoln said.

“You know what he’s capable of, and I thought the idea of a character that the audience knows and has lived with — and who has oscillated between psycho and father for nine years — to start in a completely different place, was a really interesting, crazy place to begin. I want to know why we keep seeing helicopters flying around. What’s going on? What have the grown-ups been doing while we’ve been scrambling around in the dirt?”

Asked if his “grown-ups” comment indicated the involvement of the government or some other far-reaching structure, Lincoln elected to keep quiet.

“I’m not going to say any more than that,” he said. “I don’t want to give away — well, I don’t know the story actually, so I can’t give anything away.”

McIntosh, who said in November she had yet to see a script, previously admitted she knows little about the top-secret project but expects the movie to bring “more of an understanding of the community that [the helicopter group] came from and that I’m going to with them.”

Gimple previously teased the first movie will explore the “vast mythology” behind the helicopter group that absconded with a wounded Rick Grimes in Lincoln’s Season Nine sendoff episode, bringing with it answers surrounding the ‘A’ and ‘B’ classification system used to identify Rick, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

“It is really important for the audience to know that we are going to be continuing to tell the story of Rick Grimes in these AMC Studios original films. We don’t want this thing to be like, ‘Oh, well, he’ll be back on the show any moment now.’ We are telling Rick’s story in another medium, and it’s going to be these AMC Studios original films,” Gimple told EW after confirming Lincoln will not be returning to the mothership show.

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“They’re going to be on AMC, most probably. They’re centered around Rick Grimes. We’re going to tell the story of what happens after that helicopter flight, and these are going to be big, epic entertainments.”

AMC is aiming for a 2019 production start for the first Walking Dead movie, which has yet to receive a release window from the network.