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The basic cable network has handed out a series order for a scripted series based on the beloved Anne Rice title. The pickup, which follows a years-long development effort that saw the author’s iconic works jump from Hulu, Paramount TV Studios and Anonymous Content, comes after AMC and its in-house studio landed the rights to 18 of her titles in a May 2020 deal.
AMC and its streamer, AMC+, will launch Interview With the Vampire in 2022. Casting for the eight-episode first season has not yet begun. Rolin Jones, who inked an overall deal with AMC shortly before the cabler landed rights to the Vampire franchise, will serve as showrunner on the series. AMC veteran Mark Johnson, who has worked on Breaking Bad, Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul/El Camino, Halt and Catch Fire and Rectify, will also exec produce alongside Jones. Johnson, who has his own overall pact with AMC Studios, will be charged with overseeing the Vampire franchise as AMC plans to build a multiple-show universe as part of the Rice deal.
“The challenge of adapting for television the groundbreaking and immensely compelling work of Anne Rice is both intimidating and exhilarating,” Johnson said in a statement Thursday. “Having previously produced films from such singular works, I recognize both the responsibility and the obligation we owe the material. I strongly believe that with AMC and Rolin Jones we are equipped to meet this challenge and to thrill and entertain both the loyal Anne Rice fan and the viewer who is just now discovering her work.”
AMC landed rights to Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Mayfair Witches series as part of the deal with the author and her writer son, Christopher Rice, last year. That encompasses Interview With the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the Body Thief, Memnoch the Devil, The Vampire Armand, Pandora, Vittorio the Vampire, Blood and Gold, Prince Lestat, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis and Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat; The Witching Hour, Lasher, Taltos and The Vampire Chronicles/The Lives Of The Mayfair Witches crossover novels Merrick, Blackwood Farm and Blood Canticle.
Combined, the two franchises have sold more than 150 million books worldwide. Anne and Christopher Rice will exec produce all series stemming from the deal.
“In 1973, a grieving mother and extraordinary writer began what would become the finest vampire novel ever written (all respects to Mr. Stoker),” said Jones, who most recently served as showrunner on season one of HBO’s Perry Mason. “Nearly 50 years later we know what’s expected of us. We know how much this book and the ones that follow mean to their massive fan base. We feel you over our shoulders as we tend the Savage Garden. Louis and Lestat are coming out of hiding and we can’t wait to reunite them with you.”
The formal AMC series order comes nearly five years after Rice regained the theatrical rights to Vampire and was planning to adapt the series for television. Universal and Imagine Entertainment previously had the rights to the franchise. Warner Bros. previously adapted Interview With the Vampire (based on the first book in the series) into a 1994 feature starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. The 2002 pic Queen of the Damned also took inspiration from Rice’s series.
Paramount TV Studios and Anonymous Content optioned rights to 11 books from The Vampire Chronicles in 2017, with Christopher Rice on board to pen the scripts. A year later, Hulu landed the series following an multiple-outlet bidding war after Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) quietly boarded and exited the series as showrunner after sources said he didn’t want to step on the toes of his longtime friends, Christopher and Anne Rice. (The Rice’s are non-writing exec producers on the AMC series.) Hulu, which had enlisted dee Johnson (Nashville, ER) as showrunner, dropped the series in late 2019. AMC, under former network head Sarah Barnett, swooped in and scored rights to both Vampire Chronicles and Mayfair Witches last summer with the goal of turning the books into a TV franchise.
Vampire arrives as AMC is prepping to say farewell to Better Call Saul and the flagship series in The Walking Dead universe. Both Breaking Bad and Walking Dead were turned into network-defining franchises at the basic cable network. In today’s Peak TV world, IP continues to become more valuable as networks and streamers alike look for content with built-in fan bases that have global appeal in a bid to cut through a cluttered landscape and deliver multiple shows that help platforms stand out from the crowd (and, in some cases, draw subscription dollars).
“This is a day we have been looking forward to since we acquired this legendary Anne Rice collection a little more than a year ago,” said Dan McDermott, president of original programming at AMC Networks and AMC Studios. “This story already has millions of fans in the U.S. and around the world, we can’t wait to share this new interpretation of the classic brought to life by Rolin and Mark, as we continue to work on developing the entire collection. With The Walking Dead, this Anne Rice collection and our majority stake in Agatha Christie Limited through our own Acorn TV, we are proud to have the stewardship of three unique, fan-forward and beloved franchises and universes, which we are only just beginning to explore. We are also thrilled to have Mark, a world-class producer we have previously worked with on iconic series like Breaking Bad, Rectify, Halt and Catch Fire and Better Call Saul on board at the helm of our efforts to develop an entire Anne Rice universe, with significant aspirations for these beloved stories and characters.”
The Vampire Chronicles joins a roster of AMC originals including The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead untitled Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride offshoot, Tales of the Walking Dead and Killing Eve, with the latter set to end as the cabler explores turning that series into a franchise as well. AMC recently launched Kevin Can F*** Himself and also has Ragdoll and Ultra City Smiths coming soon.
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