The explosion of content, the entry of new and deep-pocketed providers, and the dramatic changes of viewer behavior are the challenges AMC President and General Manager Charlie Collier pinpointed at AMC’s opening portion of the Winter Press Tour in Pasadena on Saturday.
As a result, it’s not surprising that Collier announced the ninth-season renewal of mega-hit The Walking Dead, even though the once unstoppable drama is facing declining ratings in its older age. And popular prequel spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead, which will feature the first crossover character, Lennie James as Morgan Jones, will return on Sunday, April 15.
”AMC is home to three of the four [programs that draw more than 2 million adults 25-54 among ad-supported cable dramas in 2017], with The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul,” he said. “But that does not change the fact that we are thinking differently about the future of our business.”
For a network with a reputation on critical par with premium cable networks such as HBO and Showtime, AMC proved it could house a mass-appeal hit with The Walking Dead. But the network is looking at even further diversifying its programming, which AMC President of Original Programming David Madden describes as “prestige popcorn—thoughtful genre shows that are truly human but immersive and fan-focused.”
Putting shock value aside, Madden also mentioned the “deep relationships and big emotional themes” on The Walking Dead, and that level of storytelling is captured in many of the network’s lesser-watched programs.
”AMC has also built an extraordinary reputation for rich, character-driven, totally ambitious shows like Better Call Saul and Halt and Catch Fire, not to mention those first couple of shows that launched AMC,” Madden said, referring to Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
Three upcoming shows that fit the “prestige popcorn” descriptor, according to Madden, are dark comedy Dietland, with Julianna Margulies; drama Lodge 49, which centers on a young male ex-surfer, who joins a fraternal lodge after his father’s death; and mystery/thriller The Terror. Debuting on Monday, March 26, The Terror centers on the Royal Navy’s voyage into un-chartered territory as they attempt to discover the Northwest Passage in 1845.
Madden also announced a new version of The Little Drummer Girl, an international spy story set in the 1970s.
New eight-part mafia drama McMafia, inspired by Misha Glenny’s best-selling book of the same name, will launch Monday, Feb. 26. Immediately after its premiere, the entire first season of the series will be available on the network’s AMC Premiere premium service.
Original special James Cameron’s Story Of Science Fiction, a six-part event, premieres on Monday, April 30. And season three of drama Into the Badlands returns on Sunday, April 22.