2:00pm PT by Rebecca Ford, Lesley Goldberg
'Walking Dead' Creator Inks First-Look Film Deal With Universal (Exclusive)
Universal has signed a two-year first-look film deal with Robert Kirkman's Skybound Entertainment.
Kirkman, the prolific comic book writer and creator of popular AMC zombie drama The Walking Dead, founded the comic book publishing imprint in 2010. It's under the umbrella of Image Comics, of which Kirkman is a partner.
All of Kirkman's own comic book creations, including The Walking Dead, The Astounding Wolf-Man, Outcast and Invincible, are under the Skybound label. The imprint also publishes outside work including Witch Doctor by writer Brandon Seifert and artist Lukas Ketner. Kirkman partnered with longtime collaborator, and fellow executive producer of The Walking Dead, David Alpert in the endeavor.
“In high school I watched Army of Darkness pretty much every night before bed, so I’ve seen that Universal logo steering around the planet we call home about a thousand times,” said Kirkman. “The idea of producing movies that will bear that logo is just unbelievably awesome. We couldn’t find better partners than the team at Universal. I believe this partnership is going to help David and I achieve all the goals we set out to accomplish when we founded Skybound five years ago.”
While this deal sparks questions about the possibility of a Walking Dead movie in the future, sources say there are no discussions about such a project at this time. AMC's The Walking Dead series, a ratings behemoth for the network, has been renewed for a sixth season, and AMC recently greenlit a prequel, Fear The Walking Dead created by Kirkman, that has preemptively been renewed for a second season.
Skybound recently made its first foray into film with Air, a sci-fi thriller starring The Walking Dead 's Norman Reedus and Djimon Hounsou, which will be released in August. Kirkman has a producer credit on the film, which centers on two custodians living in an underground bunker with cryogenically frozen people. Alpert is the executive producer on The Walking Dead and its companion series, Fear The Walking Dead, and his other credits also include the Jessie Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart film American Ultra, and the George Lopez film Spare Parts.
“Robert and David have proven themselves to be incredible storytellers in a wide range of mediums, and we are thrilled to be Skybound’s partner in the feature realm. We feel confident that their wealth of ideas and expertise will lead to exciting, provocative films for our slate,” said Universal co-presidents of production Peter Cramer and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum.
Also on the TV side, Cinemax is filming a 10-episode drama series based on Kirkman's newest — the Skybound/Image's comic, Outcast, which was the subject of a multiple-network bidding war before landing at the HBO sibling. Kirkman's Skybound comics are also in development at AMC (Thief of Thieves) and Syfy (Clone).
While Kirkman's properties have had multiple suitors at both cable and broadcast (NBC famously passed on The Walking Dead), he does not have an overall deal on the TV side.
Kirkman is repped by CAA, Circle of Confusion (which produces The Walking Dead) and Katz Golden. CAA also reps Skybound.