11:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Walking Dead' Boss Planning Other Spinoffs in New Role
Despite killing off the character widely considered to be the future of the franchise, Scott M. Gimple has grand plans for the future of The Walking Dead.
Gimple boarded the AMC zombie drama in season two and was tapped to become its third showrunner for season four. After putting the finishing touches on season eight, Gimple will segue to become chief content officer of The Walking Dead, a new position at AMC that will help the basic cable network expand the world, after creator Robert Kirkman exited his deal for a lucrative overall pact with Amazon Studios. In his new role, Gimple will oversee all things Walking Dead — including adding exec producer duties on lower-rated spinoff Fear the Walking Dead — in addition to gaming and future brand extensions on a variety of platforms, among other areas.
To hear Gimple tell it, those plans include a scripted expansion beyond the flagship and Fear, with the latter set to finally crossover with the original in season four when Lennie James' Morgan moves over.
"We're going to be doing traditional stuff, non-traditional stuff, stuff people don't expect," Gimple tells The Hollywood Reporter about his plans for the franchise. "But yes, definitely scripted. The odds of unscripted are very remote. But I'm not going to say no. We're going to have cool new Walking Dead stuff."
The Walking Dead has become a multibillion-dollar franchise for both AMC and Kirkman's Skybound Entertainment. In addition to the TV series and its off-shoots (companion Talking Dead and Fear, plus digital series like Flight 462), there are also multiple mobile games, video games, action figures, board games, etc. — for both the comic book line and the TV series. (Think a MacFarlane action figures for the comic book characters and a second line of the same for the show, for example.) One of the first integrations between the show and its other brands is in a partnership with AMC and Next Games, who have launched the first-ever collaborative digital campaign featuring stars from The Walking Dead. The Finnish mobile game developer has launched "Playtime With Jesus," a talent-led digital campaign for mobile game The Walking Dead: No Man's Land, starring Tom Payne (Jesus) and Alanna Masterson (Tara). The campaign features both actors explaining, during a series of eight lessons, how to tackle the game's story missions and more. Video spots will begin airing Monday on YouTube and social networking platforms as well as on AMC.
Gimple's task beyond that will be to expand the Walking Dead world with new narratives to help offset Kirkman's move to Amazon. (Kirkman exited his overall deal for a massive pact with Amazon where he will develop new genre projects for the company and reunite with Sharon Tal Yguado, who helped launch The Walking Dead globally during her tenure with Fox International Channels.) His exit created a need at AMC for a brand ambassador who knew the franchise well — something that Gimple does after having read the comic since its more 15 years ago.
"We have a bunch of different things in mind," Gimple says when asked if he has a first scripted project in mind. "Some things that are really complimentary to the stuff we're doing now and some stuff that's far afield and very different."
For Gimple, he wants to embrace the ways in which the television industry is evolving in terms of formats, episode lengths and various platforms. When pressed on if he is looking at doing other traditional spinoffs like the 16-episode seasons of Fear and TWD or shortform digital fare like Flight 462 — which aired as two-minute episodes weekly during the flagship — Gimple is open to all that and more.
"Those are two very different ends of the spectrum," he says. "We can do cool stuff in both of those spectrums and there's other stuff that doesn't quite fit in those descriptions. There are different approaches to how we tell stories and how long we tell them for and the places we can do them. I'm hoping to do a variety of different projects that are probably more in line with what we see on TV but maybe in different rhythms and formats and things like that. We'll still continue to come out with great digital content but I'm excited about the kind of stuff we can do. But I really am talking about all sides of it and I know we'll have more to talk about soon on that."
Still, Gimple remains coy for the time being about who could get a spinoff or if there are other formats and characters he'd like to see get a platform of their own.
"We're experimenting with new ways to do it. We're seeing different lengths of seasons and different formats — though I'm not talking about a 37-minute series. I'm talking about different ways to tell stories, possibly with characters we know and possibly with characters we don't [know]," he says. "We're figuring it all out right now but there's a ton of stuff that I want to dive into. It's us organizing it and deciding how to do it, how it all works together. We really have a plan that goes into the future. It's pretty exciting right now."
In the immediate future, Gimple is putting the finishing touches on season eight, working with incoming season nine showrunner Angela Kang — who has been with the series since 2011 — and collaborating with new Fear showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg (who took over for Erickson for season four) in making both shows "as great as they can be" before turning his attention to what's next.
"As we move into the spring, I'm going to be getting into all these different projects," Gimple says.
Follow THR.com/WalkingDead for full coverage of season eight and beyond.