By Larry Carroll
AMC is venturing into zombie-drama territory with multi-hyphenate Frank Darabont.
Cabler is close to finalizing one of the richest development deals ever with Darabont to write and direct a series adaptation of the Image Comics graphic novel series "The Walking Dead," penned by Robert Kirkman. Gale Anne Hurd of Valhalla Motion Pictures and David Alpert of Circle of Confusion are also on board to exec produce.
Project is set among a group of zombie survivors of an apocalypse who are led by a police officer, Rick Grimes, in search of a safe place to live. Numerous editions of the "Walking Dead" graphic novels have been published since 2003.
Joel Stillerman, AMC's senior veep of programming, production and original content, said the project appealed to the cabler because of "the quality of the storytelling" in Kirkman's work. The series will stay faithful to the tone of the original novels, he said.
"This is not about zombies popping out of closets," Stillerman said. "This is a story about survival, and the dynamics of what happens when a group is forced to survive under these circumstances. The world (in 'Walking Dead') is portrayed in a smart, sophisticated way."
Stillerman noted that the cabler's annual "Fear Fest" movie showcase around Halloween is one of AMC's most popular programming events of the year.
"We've got an audience that loves this kind of material," he said.
Darabont and Hurd pitched the project to AMC and several other outlets. There is no studio attached yet. The duo's involvement made the project a must-have for the cabler, Stillerman said."These are two world-class filmmakers who are also brilliant storytellers with experience in the fantasy genre," he said.