Variety has announced that AMC is signing a development deal to produce a series based on Robert Kirkman’s Image comic book series, The Walking Dead.
Included in the discussions is Shawshank Redemption director Frank Darabont and Terminator producer Gale Ann Hurd.
“This is not about zombies popping out of closets,” said AMC SVP of programming, Joel Stillerman to Variety. “This is a story about survival, and the dynamics of what happens when a group is forced to survive under these circumstances. The world is portrayed in a smart, sophisticated way.”
Of course, regular readers of the series know that the characters don’t always survive. In fact, the often shocking “anyone can die” theme of the book is often considered by fans and critics to be a hallmark. Speaking of a particular death from 2008, Newsarama’s Best Shots Team leader Troy Brownfield said Walking Dead held, “the most shocking page in mainstream comics this year. I’d figured for years that one of them would get it, but the other? And in that way? Heartbreaking. And creatively invigorating.”
The book, which began in 2003, dovetailed nicely with Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later to really help cement the zombie zeitgeist in comics. The tales of Rick Grimes and other survivors has led The Walking Dead to be Image’s top-selling series, even recently being used to promote other non-Kirkman written series from Image, including Chew and Viking.
UPDATE: Image Comics has released the following press release, confirming the Variety report and following it up with quotes from Kirkman about his admiration for Darabont. The press release promises more details to come, though, suggesting that maybe there’s a little more than just development limbo in store for The Walking Dead.
PRESS RELEASE – FRANK DARABONT RESURRECTS THE WALKING DEAD AT AMC!
AMC and Frank Darabont bring Robert Kirkman’s epic tale of human survival to the small screen!
12 August 2009 (Berkeley, CA) – As announced in Variety and Hollywood Reporter, AMC has signed on to bring THE WALKING DEAD to television screens. Image Comics’ epic tale of human survival in the face of a zombie apocalypse by writer Robert Kirkman and illustrator Charlie Adlard is being adapted as an ongoing television series by Shawshank Redemption and Stephen King’s The Mist director Frank Darabont.
“I’m a huge fan of Frank Darabont’s body of work and AMC has impressed me to no end with Breaking Bad and Mad Men,” Kirkman said. “I couldn’t be happier with THE WALKING DEAD ending up here.”
THE WALKING DEAD deal will bring Darabont in not only as Executive Producer, but also as writer and director on the adaptation. Terminator producer Gale Anne Hurd of Valhalla Motion Pictures and David Alpert from Circle of Confusion will also produce. While further information is under wraps, the plan is to keep the show extremely faithful to the Kirkman and Adlard’s comic book series.
More details on AMC’s adaptation of THE WALKING DEAD will be announced shortly.