After tense and public negotiations, AMC just closed a deal with producer Sony Pictures TV to renew dark drama Breaking Bad for a final batch of 16 episodes. The episodes are expected to be filmed together but may be split into two seasons, with a final scheduling decision to be made at a later date. The deal comes just as the series was facing two deadlines: its license deal with AMC was set to expire tomorrow and the options on the actors are up Aug. 31. The two sides have reached a compromise over the stickiest issue — who will cover the series’ budget of $3 million-plus. I hear both Sony TV and AMC will contribute. While negotiations were contentious and Sony did flirt with the idea of moving Breaking Bad to another network, the two sides started making progress over the past two weeks, leading to today’s deal. With the series renewal secured, Sony TV now has to make a new deal with Breaking Bad creator/executive producer Vince Gilligan, who doesn’t have a contract beyond Season 4 but is fully expected to return for the series’ final hurrah. The cast, led by Emmy winners Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, may also renegotiate their deals.
UPDATE 6 PM: AMC just issued a release announcing the final pickup for Breaking Bad. Here it is:
New York – NY, August, 14, 2011 – AMC announced today that “Breaking Bad,” the Emmy Award-winning and critically lauded drama series from acclaimed writer/producer/director Vince Gilligan has been renewed for a 16 episode order that will conclude the series. Production on all episodes of the final order will commence in early 2012. The roll-out of the episodes and premiere date schedule has yet to be determined by the network. The announcement was made by Charlie Collier, president of AMC.
“Breaking Bad’s” fourth season premiered on Sunday, July 18th to the highest ratings ever for the series. Household ratings are 30% stronger than season three and season four is delivering 28% more total viewers and over 45% more adults 18-34 than last season. “From the day we heard Vince Gilligan’s completely original vision for ‘Breaking Bad,’ it has been a complete joy to be involved with this show. Watching this story evolve into the complex, compelling, and intense roller coaster ride that it has become has been an incredible creative experience for everyone at AMC. Beyond that, working with Vince, his brilliant cast and crew, and our wonderful partners at Sony has been remarkable in every way. While it is sad to even contemplate the end of this series, we are so happy to have had the chance to go on this ride, and truly look forward to presenting the rest of this amazing story,” said Collier.
“It’s a funny irony — I’d hate to know the date of my own last day on earth, but I’m delighted to know what Walter White’s will be (episodically speaking). This is a great gift to me and to my wonderful writers. It’s knowledge which will allow us to properly build our story to a satisfying conclusion. Now, if we don’t manage to pull that off, we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves,” said Vince Gilligan. “‘Breaking Bad’ has been a dream job these past four years. Working with the best cast and crew in television has no doubt spoiled me for future projects. I’m lucky to get to work with them on sixteen more episodes, and I will always be grateful to both AMC and Sony Television, who from the beginning, believed in our show and supported me creatively and professionally. We have been able to take risks with ‘Breaking Bad’ which would not have been possible on other networks.”
“We’ve watched ‘Breaking Bad’ grow over the years with viewers, as championed by the unwavering support of critics and the well deserved accolades Vince and his talented actors have received. We’re looking forward to seeing Vince’s masterful storytelling come fully to fruition over the course of the series’ final episodes,” said Zack Van Amburg, President, programming for Sony Pictures Television.
“Breaking Bad” stars Emmy Award-winner Bryan Cranston as Walter White; Emmy Award-winner Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman; Anna Gunn as Skyler White; Dean Norris as Hank Schrader; Betsy Brandt as Marie Schrader; RJ Mitte as Walter, Jr; Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman; Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring; and Jonathan Banks as Mike. “Breaking Bad” is filmed on location in Albuquerque, NM.
The series first premiered on AMC in January 2008 and follows protagonist Walter White, a milquetoast high school chemistry teacher who lives in New Mexico with his wife, teenage son who has cerebral palsy and a new baby girl. White is diagnosed with Stage III cancer and given a prognosis of two years left to live. With a new sense of fearlessness based on his medical prognosis, and a desire to gain financial security for his family, White chooses to enter a dangerous world of drugs and crime and ascends to power in this world. The series explores how a fatal diagnosis such as White’s releases a typical man from the daily concerns and constraints of normal society and follows his transformation from mild-mannered family man to a kingpin of the drug trade.
“Breaking Bad” is produced by High Bridge Productions, Inc. and Gran Via Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television for AMC. Executive Producers are Vince Gilligan, Mark Johnson, and Michelle MacLaren; Co-Executive Producers Melissa Bernstein and Sam Catlin; Supervising Producers Peter Gould, George Mastras, and Tom Schnauz; Producers Moira Walley-Beckett, Bryan Cranston, and Diane Mercer; Produced By Stewart A. Lyons; Associate Producer Andrew Ortner, Staff Writer Gennifer Hutchison; and Director of Photography Michael Slovis.