Is The Walking Dead killing off zombie movies?

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People are throwing a lot of shade at The Walking Dead at the moment for various reasons. Viewer figures are dropping, long-time fans are threatening to walk away from the show and even legendary horror filmmakers are having a pop at AMC’s survival drama.

George A. Romero has never been a fan of The Walking Dead TV show and has claimed that the show is stopping him from getting his own zombie movies financed. Romero kicked off the sub-genre in the late 60s with the seminal Night of the Living Dead and then followed it up with Dawn and Day of the Dead. His trilogy were not just horror films, but critiques of the nuclear family, rampant consumerism and American militarism.

Now, following his less well-received Land, Diary and Survival of the Dead films, Romero blames The Walking Dead for not being able to get another zombie film financed. But is that really fair?

Land of the Dead made over $46 million from a $15 million budget, but Diary of the Dead only made a paltry $5 million and came across a little like your Granddad getting angry about the amount of time you spend taking pictures on your mobile phone. Survival of the Dead fared even worse, making just over $140,000 from a $4 million budget. That’s a hell of a loss and probably a much bigger reason that financiers aren’t queuing up to throw money at Romero to milk his ‘Dead’ series any further.

But speaking of milking a series until it runs dry, Halloween director John Carpenter believes that it is The Walking Dead that is doing all the milking, not Romero. Speaking to Marc Maron on the WTF Podcast, Carpenter said ‘[The Walking Dead] was a movie that George Romero made back in 1968. And they have milked that, and they are still milking it’.

It’s interesting to note that The Walking Dead’s comic creator Robert Kirkman has also tried to distance himself from Romero’s films recently by stating that the reason the word ‘zombie’ is never used in his show is that ‘no one inside The Walking Dead has seen a [George Romero] movie, so they can’t get the rules from that’.

It can’t be denied that Romero has been a huge influence on Kirkman, but neither can it be denied that the quality of Romero’s films has dipped badly since his original trilogy. To be fair to Kirkman and The Walking Dead, Romero also mentions World War Z and its $190 million budget as having a negative impact on his chances of getting a small, independently financed and ‘sociopolitical’ zombie movie made.

When you consider that World War Z took made over $500 million, it’s not surprising that Hollywood is looking to make big, dumb, action-packed and star-studded zombie movies now. So enjoy The Walking Dead’s low-key character drama while it lasts. It’s only a matter of time before some suit demands that the show needs more action, more zombies and Johnny Depp hanging off a helicopter.

All figures from Box Office Mojo.

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