AMC has a history of lying to its audience. Lying may be too strong of a word. Subterfuge, omitting, fibbing, and maybe deceitful are better words to use than lying. However, AMC’s history of not being forthcoming when it comes to The Walking Dead is legendary and not cute in the least.
Remember when AMC had viewers convinced Glenn was dead, presumably under a trash dumpster? Scott Gimple and actor Steve Yeun even went on AMC’s fluffer show The Talking Dead to lament on Glenn’s sad passing. Turns out the joke was on the audience. Ha ha ha, AMC pulled a fast one on all of us.
Remember not too long ago when Andrew Lincoln said he would no longer be on The Walking Dead? Lincoln’s reasons were sound and believable. He spent a lot of time on the series and wanted to take a step back to spend more time with his family. Who could blame someone who wanted to spend more time with their family? Fans cried like their family dog had been run over by a bus when he left the series.
Except, this wasn’t the whole truth either. Lincoln wasn’t done with The Walking Dead and AMC wasn’t done with Rick Grimes. AMC later announced Lincoln’s Grimes would return in not just one but three Walking Dead movies to be aired on AMC. Made for AMC Walking Dead movies made a little sense at the time. AMC announced at San Deigo ComicCon this year the once basic cable movies will be released on the big screen.
There are some big questions about The Walking Dead movies that need to be asked and answered. Because we can’t fully trust AMC we’ll have to answer those questions ourselves. Admittedly it’s a thought exercise at best. No one knows for sure what is really going on or happen with these movies. But we can answer these questions based on the evidence at hand and don’t need to bother whether or not AMC will be truthful to the fans.
Who is going to direct these movies? Will AMC hand the reigns over to Lincoln to direct one or all of the movies? Lincoln has no real experience as a director. It wouldn’t be the first time an actor with no directing experience was given the chance to direct. Netflix gave Brie Larson The Unicorn Store with no experience behind the camera. At one point someone gave Mel Gibson, Sean Penn, and Ben Affleck the chance to direct. This is not to say Lincoln will be as adept behind the camera as other actors turned directors and the material is completely different from movies directed by Gibson, Penn, and Affleck.
AMC is going to need a somewhat big name behind the camera. The Walking Dead does not have the steam a franchise like the Avengers franchise has to be successful no matter who’s behind the camera. Very few people knew who James Gunn was before he directed Guardians of the Galaxy, even less people knew the Russo Brothers before Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and outside of the very,very few people who saw Sugar no one had ever heard of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck before Captain Marvel.
Marvel Studios’ MO since the very start has been pretty smart. Marvel hired established directors to turn in successful first movies and to get the franchises off the ground. Once Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America, and the Avengers were successful and the MCU was off to the races the studio could afford to hire new names like Gunn, Russo Brothers, Boden, Fleck, and Waititi. The Marvel engine is at full throttle. People are going to watch Marvel movies regardless of director. The Walking Dead does not have this luxury. They can’t take a chance on hiring a Boden, Fleck, or a Chloe Zhao.
What’s the budget for the movies? The budget is going to have to be much bigger than what AMC spends on an episode of the series and maybe bigger than an entire season. The budget is going to have to be big only to separate the movies from the television series. Who’s going to spend ten to twelve dollars (not including prices for 3D and Imax tickets) to see something they can watch for basically free?
AMC is going to have to give the audience something more than what they can see at home. A big budget will give creators, whoever they will be, freedom to explore and create whereas on the series creators are limited by a smaller budget. However, a big budget does not mean the movies will be good or be a success (Detective Pikachu, Men In Black International, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Hellboy).
The bigger question is why and why now? The Walking Dead series has seen ratings drop since season five. Last year’s series finale was one of the lowest rated episodes to date. Fans from earlier seasons have dropped to the wayside abandoning the series that at one time seemed to have direction and purpose. To put things in a little better perspective, The X Files was also once a huge ratings getter and a culture phenomenon. At the somewhat height of its popularity Chris Carter (The X Files creator) released the Rob Bowman X-Files movie known by its other name Fight the Future. Despite high television ratings the movie flopped on release.
We can argue the reason the X-Files movie flopped was because the whole X-Files story was confusing to new viewers. The movie did little to introduce a new audience to the mythologies Carter had been developing for seasons. The Walking Dead‘s story line, what there is left, is a lot less confusing and cerebral than The X Files. AMC has to be betting on past fans returning to the fold and people with no connection to the series handing over their money to make their movies a success. Will the network’s gamble pay off even as ratings drop and viewers continue to abandon the series? As actors begin to leave the series the fans are sure to follow.
Danai Gurira announced at this year’s San Deigo ComicCon season ten would be her last season on The Walking Dead. IF we are to believe her it would make sense she would seek other projects after the mega-success of Black Panther. However, it really remains to be seen if she is done with The Walking Dead (see Andrew Lincoln). The fall out between showrunners and Lauren Cohan is public record. Cohan wanted more money and the showrunners said no. Who can blame anyone wanting a raise when everyone around them is getting paid more for the same work? Will other actors follow?
Do people even want another zombie movie? Zombies are not a hot property. Maybe a few years ago releasing not one but three zombie movies may have made sense. It makes less sense in 2019 as people have moved from zombies to superheroes. It makes even less sense in 2020 when the first movie is likely to be released. Anything past 2020 is absurd.
AMC still has time to pull a fast one and tell fans the movies will be on the AMC network and not in theaters. The network can play it off as another joke on the fans. Don’t be surprised if this happens. Don’t be surprised either when these movies die in the theaters. It will be a death the series won’t be able to come back from.