Universal may have ended up with the rights to the feature film continuation of AMC's long-running horror series The Walking Dead, but it was possible that somebody else could have done it -- and the network apparently entertained offers from multiple suitors. AMC President and CEO Josh Sapan said as much during an earnings call, although he declined to name specific studios who were interested in distributing the film, which is the first of a planned trilogy centered on the story of Rick Grimes. Grimes, the central protagonist of the TV series for the first nine seasons, was written out about midway through last year. While the characters in-universe assume he is dead, he has in fact been taken away by a mysterious helicopter.
The general idea seems to be that Rick's absence from the TV series will give star Andrew Lincoln more time with his family and more flexibility to take on other projects, but the feature films will continue Rick's story and likely, ultimately, lead him back to Alexandria and his daughter, Judith. The series' first season centered on Rick's search for his family -- his son Carl and pregnant wife Lori -- and while both of those characters have since been killed, Rick still has Judith to return to.
The films will get a theatrical release through Universal, which came as a surprise to many fans who had expected them to be TV movies. Earlier this week, AMC's programming chief admitted that they were not necessarily planned for theatrical release at conception.
“It’s a big dream to have a current TV show that is still on the air to have a feature film incarnation. That doesn’t happen very often,” David Madden acknowledged.
TheWrap, who had previously reported on Madden's comments, were also listening in on the call today. They noted that Sapan declined to disclose potential bidders for the movies by saying it was privileged information, although given the success of The Walking Dead on Netflix and the streamer's aggressive courting of comic book properties, it seems likely that they were one of the bidders.
The Walking Dead Season 10 premieres Sunday, October 6 on AMC.