The Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes Movie Will Stand on Its Own and Appeal to a Broad Audience

Scott Gimple, The Walking Dead chief content officer and writer-producer on the untitled TWD movie that sees Andrew Lincoln reprise his role as zombie-slaying former sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes, says the franchise’s first film will both appeal to a broad audience and honor fans of the television show now airing its tenth season on AMC. Comparing the film to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine sendoff Logan, which doubled as a sequel-slash-ending point for the X-Men franchise, the former showrunner hopes the films will draw in moviegoers unfamiliar with TWD Universe, including younger audiences who have yet to see an episode of any Walking Dead show.

“In doing it, that’s sort of the prime directive, not to get into Star Trek… you have to make it worth it for them to go,” Gimple told THR’s “TV’s Top 5” podcast when asked about the movie’s cinematic value. “So you have to give them complete entertainment that uses that giant screen, but also hits them in the heart so that you walk out of that theater with a smile on your face, maybe your heart racing a little bit.”

Set sometime after Rick’s disappearance from Virginia, which initiated a six-year time jump on the mothership series, the planned trilogy finds the abducted and believed-dead Rick in the hands of a far-reaching shadowy organization that has plans to rebuild the world nearly a decade into the zombie apocalypse.

“It’s a different thing, and I think in some ways it’s about the completeness of the story, fulfilling the character of Rick Grimes and taking people on a bit of a thrill-ride, to boot,” Gimple said. “It is a different format, you know, movies are not television. There’s been a lot of talk of TV shows being like one long movie. There’s a real art to making that 90-minute, 120-minute entertainment — the lights go out, you get taken to another place, the lights come up, and you forgot you were away. It’s a different kind of challenge, and I’m loving tackling it.”

Asked about its appeal to a broad audience that includes moviegoers who have never seen an episode of any Walking Dead show, Gimple said, “This is for everyone.”

“We have to honor the fans of the show, absolutely, but I don’t think that’s mutually exclusive to letting other people in. And if this is the very first Walking Dead thing they’ve ever seen, they’ll enjoy it,” Gimple continued. “They’ll be like, ‘Whoa, that was a crazy zombie movie. Is there other Walking Dead stuff? I think I’ve heard that before.’ I mean, that is the idea. I think [George A.] Romero did that. I think we’ve set up things for an amazing story that people will get a certain satisfaction from, having had the relationship a long time to the story.”

Like Logan, the Rick Grimes movie will be mostly self-contained despite taking place in a larger universe that includes ties to AMC’s upcoming second spinoff co-created by Gimple with TWD veteran Matthew Negrete.

“I think of Logan a lot. Logan is a movie that, if you grew up on X-Men comics and the cartoons and the wonderful canned pastas, when you saw Logan, you got this extra thing out of it. But if you’ve never seen or read an X-Men thing in your life and you just stumbled onto Logan, I think that movie stands on its own,” Gimple explained. “We need this movie to stand on its own. And I would be unbelievably grateful if we create something that maybe even young people stumble onto, who have never watched an episode of The Walking Dead, and then they have this giant library that they can go home and consume, and hopefully have a great time with. But yeah, this is a movie that’s gonna be for everybody.”

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Release dates for TWD movie trilogy have not been announced. The films will be distributed into theaters under Universal Pictures.

New episodes of The Walking Dead Season 10 premiere Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.