Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has signed a new overall deal with the studio behind the acclaimed AMC drama series, Sony Pictures TV. The rich 18-month pact kicks in retroactively to November, when Gilligan’s previous deal with the studio expired (he has been working on the show without a contract for the past three months), and will keep him at Sony though June 2013. The deal covers Gilligan’s services as executive producer/showrunner on the final 16 episodes of Breaking Bad, which will begin production in late March. The order will be filmed in two batches of eight episodes, with a break of several months between for writers to work on scripts. The pact also includes development component, with Gilligan expected to focus on new projects for Sony after he wraps Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad has always been an awards darling, earning star Bryan Cranston three Emmys. But with its dark subject matter and serialized nature, it was initially a tough sale and sparked two contentious renewal negotiations between Sony TV and AMC over costs. Then over the past year, the series grew into a commercial success, hitting series-high ratings in its most recent fourth season on AMC, ringing in record DVD sales for the studio and doing well on Netflix. Gilligan, an X-Files alum, is with ICM.