The end is not nigh for Rick Grimes, apparently. Last night’s episode of The Walking Dead marked the much-touted exit of star Andrew Lincoln, who opted to depart the series after eight seasons to spend more time with his family. But as it turns out, Rick’s final moments were unique to The Walking Dead tradition in that somehow he made it out alive. Indeed, a mortally wounded Rick was taunted by hallucinations of the Ghosts of The Walking Dead Past like Jon Bernthal, only to be rescued at the last possible moment by a helicopter that flew him off to… well we don’t know where.
But we’ll find out! Shortly after Rick’s final episode, AMC announced that Lincoln is due to reprise his role as Rick Grimes in a series of The Walking Dead movies that will air on AMC, with the first one expected to begin production as early as 2019. The first film will explore the story of where Rick is taken on that helicopter and what he faces in a new corner of the zombie apocalypse.
Scott M. Gimple, who left the position of The Walking Dead showrunner after Season 7 to serve as “Chief Content Officer” of TWD franchise, wrote the screenplay for this first film, but it’s unclear who will direct and when it would air. AMC notes that these Rick Grimes movies are only the beginning of what’s intended to be another expansion of The Walking Dead universe, as additional films, specials, series, and digital content are in the works. Some of these stories will relate to The Walking Dead as fans know it, while others will be standalone stories that break into new creative territory.
Few details are known about this Rick movie at this point in time, but Gimple calls this the “first part” of continuing Rick’s story, so hold on to your butts:
“We have a lot on the horizon – starting with a new epic featuring one of the greatest leading actors in television history and one of the best people I’ve ever met. These films are going to be big evolutions of what we’ve been doing on the show, with the scope and scale of features. We’re starting with the first part of the continuing story of Rick Grimes, and there is much more on the way, featuring yet-unseen worlds of The Walking Dead and faces from the show’s past, as well as new characters we hope to become favorites, told by TWD veterans and emerging voices. We want to break new ground with different, distinct stories, all part of the same world that’s captured our imagination for nearly a decade of the Dead.”
These films are expected to be larger in scope and scale than the TV series so they’ll hopefully stand apart from the flagship show. As for why Lincoln isn’t hanging up his hat for good, so to speak, well his reason for leaving the show in the first place was to spend more time with his family in London. Shooting a movie for two or three months is far easier, schedule-wise, than basically living in Atlanta for most of the year to shoot The Walking Dead.