Robert Kirkman’s comic series THE WALKING DEAD has been a fan-favorite for years now, and enjoyed critical success as well. It’s also been one of the comic series many have suggested Hollywood make efforts to adapt. Now Variety is reporting that AMC has ordered six episodes, greenlighting this series, which will be helmed by the brilliant writer/director Frank Darabont (THE MIST, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION). The story follows survivors of a zombie apocalypse. Darabont has written and directed the pilot episode, and will executive produce with Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd (Valhalla Pictures) and David Alpert (Circle of Confusion). The series will be privately funded by AMC parent Rainbow Media.
They’re hoping to premiere the series in October to co-incide with the Halloween season and AMC’s annual “Fearfest” two-week marathon of horror and thriller movies. Jon Bernthal (THE PACIFIC) has been cast in a leading role. The show is said to follow police officer Rick Grimes, who leads a group of human survivors on a search for a safe home in a world overrun by zombies. AMC had greenlighted production of a pilot back in January of this year, but ultimately decided to go straight to series after hearing Darabont’s vision for a six-episode arc, and because of the desire to tie in with “Fearfest.”
“He’s taken the baseline road map of the underlying material and just blew it out to the next level,” said Joel Stillerman, AMC’s senior veep of programming, production and digital content. “There’s stuff in there that will make the people who love the comics very happy and some surprises in there as well.” Stillerman also added that the property is likely to have “huge international value.”
AMC president and general manager Charlie Collier noted that THE WALKING DEAD will be AMC’s first attempt at full ownership for one of one of its own series. “With Frank and Gale and their entire team invested in this project, we also wanted to be fully invested in this project,” he said.
I’ve known Kirkman and Darabont were buddies for a while, and I figured this had to pick up steam sooner than later, but I’m so happy to see it come to fruition. Kirkman isn’t just one of the best writers in comics, he’s also a very cool cat. And Darabont? Well, if you haven’t come to realize the genius of Frank yet, there’s no hope for ya. These two together, helping to bring this material to life? We’re in for something great.