The Walking Dead movie to go in 'wild new directions'
It has been more than a year since Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes left The Walking Dead TV series and franchise chief content officer Scott M. Gimple announced that the actor and character would be appearing in a trilogy of TWD films. But other than a cryptic teaser at San Diego’s Comic-Con in July 2019 that announced the first such film would be appearing “only in theaters,” news has been scarce on the project.
EW sat down for a wide-ranging discussion with Gimple on the state of The Walking Dead franchise, and in part one of our chat, we asked where they are with the film script, if a director has been chosen, where exactly people will be able to see it, and what we will see on screen. (Stay tuned all week for Gimple’s updates on The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, and other upcoming TWD content.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It has been more than a year since you announced you would be making a Rick Grimes Walking Dead movie. Do you have a timeframe in place in terms of shoot dates and locations already locked, or at least close to locked?
SCOTT M. GIMPLE: We have a couple of different plans that we’re going with depending on a couple of different factors we have to deal with on everything from story to product aspects. There have been a lot of different aspects to it in terms of timing that are pretty much coming into rapid focus right now. I would say the past year in a lot of ways has been R&D on a lot of aspects of it.
Where is the script? Where are you with that?
We are currently refining it. I don’t want to say much more than that. It’s coming together amazingly, but we’re trying to make this very special for everybody involved and we’re holding our feet to the flames. It’s an incredibly deliberate process right now.
Do you have a director for the film yet?
The director has not been chosen for this film.
In that little teaser you showed at Comic-Con in July, it said, “Only in theaters.” What does that mean? Is there anything you can tell me about the theatrical window because obviously it’s AMC, but you’ve got Universal and Skybound so there are all these entities involved.
This is a movie that’s going to be watched in the movie theater. Eventually you won’t need a movie theater to see it, but more in line with how movies work.
So this is not a situation where it screens in theaters, but then airs a few days later on AMC?
No, this is a theatrical film. Yes, there’s AMC, there’s Universal, there’s Skybound. There are a lot of parties working together to cook up something special.
Is the plan still for three films?
Yes, but we are still playing with things. That’s the plan right now.
We know it’s Michonne’s last season. Is Danai Gurira going to be a part of this film in some way?
I don’t want to get ahead of The Walking Dead. I don’t want people already looking to what Michonne might or might not be doing next. She has an amazing story coming up on Walking Dead that informs everything moving forward, but I don’t want to get ahead of that. We worked real hard on that.
What about other people in The Walking Dead universe? I’m thinking about Heath, or other people that we haven’t seen in a little while that might potentially be popping up in terms of some surprises?
I can’t even give you a definitive thing because we really are playing around with it a little bit now. We have a terrific area and direction we’re moving in, but we’re playing around with various aspects of it.
What can you say narratively about Rick? We saw him going off in the helicopter. What can you say about where the story’s going to go?
We are going to continue to tell Rick’s story, and we are going to discover so much of the world through that story. Rick will be challenged in different ways that, in some ways, everything that he’s been through has sort of prepared him for. It’s a much larger world than one that he had been operating in, and that was challenging in and of itself. Now things are heightened, and just as we’re going to the movies — and it is the movies proper, suitably wide screen — we’re going to be filling that screen with a brand new world.
I was going to ask you about that in terms of the production elements: How is the scale different? How is your budget different?
The scale is bigger and the budget is bigger, and it’s The Walking Dead, but heightened, both in the narrative themes, but also in just what we see onscreen. I say heightened, but I should also say it’s also very different. It’s not going to be the exact same thing we saw on television, just larger. We are going in some wild new directions. Movies are a different beast than television. Television is like, boom, we’re done. Movies, to calibrate an hour and a half, two hours is no joke, and it’s been a lot of fun, but it’s a real challenge and we take it very seriously for the fans. We really want to deliver them something special, something worth their trip to the movies. We’re trying to be very deliberate and deliver something new.
For more Walking Dead news, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.