The Walking Dead Movies Weren't Always Planned for Theatrical Release

AMC is thrilled to bring The Walking Dead to the big screen under distributor Universal Pictures, but programming chief David Madden says the cabler wasn't counting on a theatrical release.

"It could've ended up with us [on AMC], it could've ended up at a streaming platform," Madden told TheWrap. "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."

Some internet commenters complained they'll now have to pay to view the movies, accusing AMC of pulling a bait and switch by announcing a line of cable-aired films only to reveal plans for theatrical release during San Diego Comic-Con.


When first announcing the movie trilogy to be led by Rick Grimes star Andrew Lincoln in November, TWD chief content officer Scott Gimple said the films "are going to be shown on AMC," but would nonetheless have "the scope of feature films."

"We are telling Rick's story in another medium, and it's going to be these AMC Studios original films. They're going to be on AMC, most probably," Gimple previously told EW. "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."

But the plan has changed, and the franchise can now expand its horizons with a filmic Walking Dead experience not limited by the confines of television.

Speaking to at Comic-Con, creator Robert Kirkman — who Gimple said is heavily involved with the movie side of the franchise — teased TWD movies will offer "more spectacle" than their television counterparts.

"These films are going to be big evolutions of what we've been doing on the show, with the scope and scale of features," Gimple said in November.


"We're starting with the first part of the continuing story of Rick Grimes, and there is much more on the way, featuring yet-unseen worlds of The Walking Dead and faces from the show's past, as well as new characters we hope to become favorites, told by TWD veterans and emerging voices. We want to break new ground with different, distinct stories, all part of the same world that's captured our imagination for nearly a decade of the Dead."

AMC and Universal Pictures have yet to announce a release date for the first Untitled Walking Dead Movie. Gimple previously hinted the film could debut in 2020.