SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for the latest episode of The Walking Dead. You've been warned!
Andrew Lincoln served as the central protagonist on The Walking Dead for about eight years, but tonight that tenure came to an end. Though the character didn't die, he was shown being taken on a helicopter to an unknown location, and it's been promised that his time on the show is done. That being said, it seems that Lincoln isn't totally done with Rick Grimes as a character, as Executive Producer Scott Gimple has confirmed his part in a series of upcoming TV movies:
It is really important for the audience to know that we are going to be continuing to tell the story of Rick Grimes in these AMC Studios original films. We don't want this thing to be like, 'Oh, well, he'll be back on the show any moment now.' 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. They're centered around Rick Grimes.
When Rick Grimes didn't die and get a permanent conclusion, there was immediate speculation about where the character would appear next -- and Scott Gimple hasn't wasted any time answering that question. Discussing the new episode with EW, Gimple confirmed that the Walking Dead movies that were rumored earlier this year are in serious development and have secured their lead.
It seems that the choices for Rick Grimes' future were made because these Walking Dead movies are being developed simultaneously with the continuing show. Scott Gimple confirmed that the first of the feature-length tales will pick up right where the episode left the protagonist, and confirmed that Jadis, played by Pollyanna McIntosh, will be along for the ride -- what with her being in the helicopter and all. Said Gimple,
We're going to tell the story of what happens after that helicopter flight, and these are going to be big, epic entertainments. Each are quality films. That's what's been happening in the industry. We've seen Netflix make these, basically, studio films for people to watch in their homes, and we're going to be doing the same sort of thing here.
So if you were expecting the possibility of seeing Rick Grimes take on a horde of the undead at your local multiplex any time soon, it seems like you might not want to hold your breath. While what's being designed will apparently have all the frills of a big screen blockbuster, it sounds like its intended medium will be the small screen.
In the latest Walking Dead episode, titled "What Comes After," hints multiple times at Rick Grimes' death, but winds up having him narrowly survive an explosion. In a big redemption move, Jadis makes a deal that sees her join Rick in a helicopter en route to a community of surviving humans. While we don't really know exactly where it is that they are heading at the moment, there is plenty of material based on which we can speculate. For example, could this possibly be the same place where Maggie (Lauren Cohan) went to after her conversation with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) a few weeks back.
As for what to expect from the movies that will see Rick's story continue, there is actually some epic stuff in the works. As you might be able to tell from the usage of plural nouns in Scott Gimple's quotes, there isn't just a plan for one Walking Dead movie, but instead a full trilogy. The filmmaker adds that not everything will strictly revolve around the former small town sheriff's deputy, but that it will be the primary starting place. Gimple explained,
We are talking about a trilogy for this Rick Grimes story. It doesn't necessarily mean it's the only Rick Grimes stories we're ever going to tell, and also they're probably not going to be the only movies that we tell. The Rick Grimes story, of course, is the biggest thing that we're doing right off the bat, but we're going to be doing a number of different Walking Dead things over the next few years. A universe of stuff. We're not going to release it all at once. We're going to be putting things out over the years for maximum effect. We don't want to overwhelm folks with it.
Scott Gimple added that there is already a timeline in place for these projects as well. While The Walking Dead will continue its ninth season going into 2019, the producer/former showrunner is planning to have Andrew Lincoln back to work at the same time. As described, the features are going to take a while to make, and we probably won't see the finished product until 2020, but the wheels are definitely in motion:
I am extremely hard at work on the first one right now, and most likely filming next year, though I'm freaking out about deadlines right now, so I'm not going to tell you exactly when because it will only make me pass out. But it really is going to be sooner than later. On the flip side, these are not going to be made on television schedules. This is going to be on feature schedules, and they're going to be big, so they're going to take a minute to make.
What do you make of these developments? Do you think it's a cop out that Rick Grimes is still alive after so much build up? Do you think it's a good idea to continue his story in feature form? Are you bummed that it doesn't sound like these projects are going to get theatrical releases? Do you have any early guesses as to what we could possibly see in a full trilogy of made-for-TV movies? We want to hear what you have to say, so leave all of your thoughts, opinions and questions in the comments section below, and stay tuned for more of our continuing Walking Dead coverage here on CinemaBlend.