AMC CEO Says The Walking Dead Still in “Early Stages of Life”

The Walking Dead franchise is “in the early stages of life” and “has many opportunities for growth” as it nears its tenth year as a live-action brand, AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan said in a Wednesday conference call (via Deadline).

It was Sapan who in September revealed the cabler has a plan to manage TWD Universe “over the next decade, plus,” saying during the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, “That plan is a careful plan to respect the world of the fans of that world.”

Months later, AMC would reveal its plans for a Walking Dead movie franchise, an offshoot of the flagship television series launched in 2010 that now heads into its tenth season. Andrew Lincoln returns as Rick Grimes across a trilogy to be theatrically released under distributor Universal Pictures.

The films are part of an effort to expand AMC’s blockbuster franchise going into its second decade, with TWD chief content officer Scott Gimple promising a “bananas” 2020.

“Right now, 2020 is looking like a really big year for the universe and the shows,” Gimple said at WonderCon. “I guess it’s the beginning of our next decade, so we’re trying to kick it off in style. But it looks like 2020 is an exciting year.”

Beyond TWD Season 10, due out on AMC in October, and a recently announced sixth season for spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, AMC is now filming its third untitled Walking Dead series.

This second spinoff, co-created by Gimple and TWD veteran Matthew Negrete, promises to be “completely different” from its predecessors and will explore a different corner of the universe inspired by creator Robert Kirkman’s long-running and recently ended comic book.

“The new show is really on its own separate path. It’s a different feel and different tone,” AMC programming chief David Madden recently told TheWrap. “It won’t look anything like the other two shows.”

Even as AMC continues to expand the world around the original 2010 show that continues to suffer significant losses — Chandler Riggs’ Carl Grimes in Season 8, Lincoln’s Rick in Season 9, and next Danai Gurira’s Michonne in Season 10 — Madden argued the mothership show is nowhere near its end and could potentially survive another decade.

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“I’m not saying the show will go 20 seasons,” Madden said, “but I’m not saying it won’t.”

The Walking Dead Season 10 premieres Sunday, October 6 on AMC.