'Walking Dead' strolls to AMC

Net wins bidding war, inks biggest development deal yet

In its biggest development deal to date, AMC has acquired the rights to Robert Kirkman's popular comic book "The Walking Dead" for a potential series.

Frank Darabont is on board to write, direct and exec produce the project, with Gale Anne Hurd of Valhalla Pictures and David Alpert of Circle of Confusion also executive producing.

"Walking Dead," a monthly black-and-white comic book, has been a hotly sought-after property since it was published in 2003 by Image Comics. Darabont originally developed the project several years ago under his deal at NBC. It landed at AMC after a healthy bidding war.

"Dead" chronicles the months and years following a zombie apocalypse where a group of survivors, led by police officer Rick Grimes, travel in search of a safe, secure home. The comic explores the challenges of life in a world overrun by zombies that take a toll on the survivors. Over time, they grow willing to do anything to survive, so the interpersonal conflicts sometimes present a greater danger to their continuing survival than the zombies who roam the country.

Genre films have traditions on AMC, whose annual Fearfest horror showcase continues to be a strong draw.

But a "Dead" series would transcend the comic book genre and mesh with AMC's other drama offerings, "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad," said Joel Stillerman, senior vp original programming, production and digital content.

"I don't know of another series of books that has such beautiful storytelling, great human emotions and everything that really works on AMC," he said. "It allows us to stay where we want to stay: in the world of smart, sophisticated storytelling and apply that to a show that we think the audience would love."

Darabont, an Oscar nominee for writing "The Green Mile" and "The Shawshank Redemption," is repped by CAA.