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Going into its ninth season, The Walking Dead remains one of the most popular shows on TV, even if that popularity is the day-old-walker version of its former viewership heights. AMC has no plans on bringing it to a shambling halt, either, with one exec recently stating there are plans to keep the franchise alive and kicking for at least another ten years. No details were given at the time, but it appears the network's general Walking Dead strategy has come out, and basically, it involves branching out however it can, wherever it can. Zombies!
AMC appears to be trying to create a Walking Dead cinematic and televised universe for fans to obsess over in the near future, and Bloomberg reports the goal is not only to create more spinoff TV shows -- including streaming series -- that take place in the zombie post-apocalypse, but AMC also wants to produce multiple Walking Dead feature films. Which also come with the hopes that the movies can then be spun off into different TV projects. The presumable big difference between this comic-inspired Walking Dead-verse and those of DC and Marvel is that these stories would likely all take place in one continuity. We probably shouldn't expect everything to air on AMC proper, however.
To fund the highly expensive and expansive plans for The Walking Dead's future, which are rumored to amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, network execs have reportedly held meetings with highly successful media companies about partnering up for the production process. Those companies weren't specified, but perhaps it speaks to the both the Walking Dead brand and the AMC Networks brand that the team is shooting so high with their near-future goals.
Former Walking Dead showrunner Scott Gimple, who was promoted to the franchise's chief content officer earlier this year, is one of the people behind the push to get the zombie drama, as is AMC's president Charlie Collier. The latter was one of the spearheaders behind turning AMC into an original programming juggernaut, and there's a very good chance he could be responsible for another network or streaming service's boost in popularity, if this Walking Dead scenario bears fruit. Interestingly, Gimple has talked in the past about bringing the Walking Dead stories to another country for the first time, and that is reportedly one of the bigger ideas for this expansion.
I've a few go-to guesses for where other Walking Dead projects could end up outside of AMC. Netflix is perhaps the most obvious one, since The Walking Dead is consistently one of its most-streamed TV shows, and the service can definitely provide the mega-budgets needed to take the visual elements to the next level. At least as far as a general lack of censorship goes. Amazon is another big choice, since all of its latest moves have been in the direction of big and bold populist projects, both for TV and for features. (It also helps that Dead co-creator Robert Kirkman has a deal with Amazon, where his comic Invincible is being adapted as a series.) And then there's a premium cable network like Starz, known for high-quality projects that speak to fandoms, or AT&T's up-swinging Audience Network, which also has deep pockets and a goal to reach more viewers.
To speculate about the specific kinds of projects that we might get from future Walking Dead spinoffs could and would take all day, so we won't dive off the deep end just yet. But it will absolutely be interesting to see how the next projects' creative teams handle the subject matter in comparison to how the first four seasons of Fear the Walking Dead have gone. Will anthology seasons work better than drawn-out narratives? Could The Walking Dead also inspire an animated series or two? Will the potential movies be any different from the shows we've seen so far? Now I need a break.
The Walking Dead Season 9 will make its time-jumping debut on AMC on Sunday, October 7, at 9:00 p.m. ET. Will the new season do better or worse in the ratings than Season 8, and how will that factor into other companies' interest in teaming up for more? While waiting to find out, head to our fall TV premiere schedule to see what other shows are on the way.