'Preacher' Ordered to Series at AMC

Preacher Poster Key Art - P 2015
Courtesy of AMC

Preacher Poster Key Art - P 2015

AMC is moving forward with another comic book adaptation.

The cable network has ordered to series its adaptation of controversial comic book Preacher. Executive producer Seth Rogen broke the news Wednesday on Twitter, announcing that the series would debut in 2016 (though he later clarified it may not be May). The series pickup is for a total of 10 episodes — nine plus the pilot, sources say. (AMC did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

Based on Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's 1990s comic series from DC Comics imprint Vertigo, Preacher revolves around Rev. Jesse Custer (Agent Carter's Dominic Cooper), a badass Texas preacher who, after losing his faith, learns that God has left heaven and forsaken his duties. Jesse becomes the only one who is able to track God down and hold him responsible for his abdication. Tulip O'Hare (Ruth Negga), Jesse's beer-guzzling vampire ex-girlfriend, accompanies him on his quest for answers. But the story doesn't end there: The Saint of Killers, an immortal killing machine and Western lone gunman type, is hot on their trail with his sights set on Jesse. The cast includes True Blood's Lucy Griffiths as Emily Woodrow, a church organist and Jesse's loyal right hand; This Is England's Joseph Gilgun as Irish vampire Cassidy; and Ian Colletti as Eugene Root (aka Arseface).

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This Is the End duo Rogen and Evan Goldberg and Breaking Bad's Sam Catlin are adapting the comic for AMC via Sony Pictures Television. Breaking Bad's Catlin will executive produce and serve as showrunner on the Sony Pictures Television entry via his overall deal with the studio. Original Films' Neal MoritzVivian Cannon, Ori Marmur, Ken Levin and Jason Netter are also on board to exec produce. James Weaver will oversee the project, which was written by Catlin. Rogen and Goldberg, both big fans of the comic, will direct. Preacher marks the second TV project for Rogen and Goldberg's Point Grey. The duo also is attached to executive produce FX's animated comedy pilot Bigfoot, which is based on the books by Graham Roumieu. Comic scribes Ennis and Dillion are on board as co-exec producers.

Preacher landed at AMC with a hefty commitment in a competitive situation with multiple networks bidding and was eventually picked up to pilot. The comic has had a long and complicated route to the screen. In October 2008, Moritz, Netter, Levin and Marmur were attached to produce a feature film take on Preacher — with Ennis writing — after HBO passed on its planned series adaptation. The HBO incarnation, first announced in November 2006, was written by feature scribe Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil, Elektra, Ghost Rider) with initial plans for a by-the-book take on all 75 issues (including one-shots). After crafting the bible for a potential series, HBO — under new executives — passed on the project. The network, Johnson said, thought Preacher was "too dark and too violent and too controversial."

Columbia Pictures then picked up the rights for a film take with Sam Mendes directing and Moritz and Netter attached to produce, marking the second attempt to bring Preacher to the big screen. The first was a long-gestating late '90s/early '2000s take from Kevin Smith and The Weinstein Co. starring James Marsden that was ultimately abandoned due to budgetary concerns.

Preacher joins Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead and its offshoot Fear the Walking Dead as dramas based on comic book properties at AMC as the cabler looks for noiser fare to break through the increasing clutter as more outlets get into the original scripted game. Preacher also joins Humans (recently renewed for a second season), Turn, Badlands, Night Manager, Broke, Better Call Saul and the final season of Hell on Wheels at AMC as the cabler renews its focus on scripted after largely abandoning all of its unscripted fare. A decision on sophomore drama Halt & Catch Fire has not yet been announced.

Preacher also comes as comic book fare has become an increasingly valuable commodity to both broadcast and cable networks. CBS in the fall will launch Supergirl, The CW has ArrowThe Flash and spinoff Legends of Tomorrow; and ABC has Marvel's Agent Carter and Agents of SHIELD; while Fox has Gotham and Lucifer. Last season, THR polled exec producers behind many of today's comic book shows to find out which title they thought would be the next big thing on the small screen and Preacher — to little surprise — ranked high among them.