‘Walking Dead’ Movie Had Multiple Suitors Beyond Universal, AMC’s Josh Sapan Says

“There was interest fairly widely among studios,” president and CEO says

the walking dead rick grimes andrew lincoln break comic-con 2018

Josh Sapan said Wednesday that multiple studios/distributors wanted in on AMC’s upcoming “Walking Dead”-universe movie. The AMC Networks president and CEO declined to disclose the financial aspects of his key cable channel’s ultimate partnership with Universal Pictures, referring to those business details as “privileged information.”

Sapan did, however, call Universal’s interest and confidence in the film a “vital sign” of the franchise’s health, and a “meaningful piece of activity” in its storied history, which started with comic books and now includes three TV series, multiple videos games and tons of merchandise.

“There was interest fairly widely among studios to do [the movie],” Sapan, who referred to Universal as being a “preeminent” member of Hollywood’s studio system, said. “[Universal’s interest] was not unique, singular, and therefore it is a representation and affirmation of strength of franchise.”

Sapan’s remarks came on his company’s second-quarter 2019 earnings conference call. Read all about AMC’s financial results here.

The AMC cable channel stunned everyone earlier this month when, during the end of the “Walking Dead” Comic-Con panel, it showed a brief teaser for the film with the ended with the words “only in theaters.” The original plan had the movie debuting on AMC.

The upcoming film, which does not yet have a release date, stars Andrew Lincoln reprising his role at Rick Grimes. No plot details or other cast have been announced.

Lincoln departed the series during the eighth season, with then-showrunner Scott Gimple (who is now in charge of AMC’s “Walking Dead” universe) saying that Lincoln would return in a series of films. The character was last seen gravely wounded and being flown away with Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) on a helicopter towards an unknown destination. The 24-second footage that AMC showed on Friday featured that same helicopter and the words “Rick Grimes Returns.”

Universal has a first-look film deal with Kirkman and his Skybound Entertainment.