Could This Be AMC’s Next Big Hit After The Walking Dead?

With Breaking Bad having recently come to an end, and with Mad Men following in its footsteps by splitting its final season into two parts, AMC's  (NASDAQ: AMCX  )  portfolio of hit shows is becoming dangerously thin. The good news is that just in time for Mad Men's final season, AMC's next breakout could come from a source that is very similar to their hit show The Walking Dead.

Through the first five episodes of this season, The Walking Dead has averaged an unprecedented 13.696 million viewers, so it's no surprise that AMC is betting that their next hit will be based on the Garth Ennis and Steven Dillion's classic comic book series, Preacher. Bleeding Cool reports that AMC has ordered a new pilot based on the comic, which is being developed for Sony Pictures Television by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Breaking Bad writer Sam Caitlin.

Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer, a small town preacher from Texas, who becomes possessed by a demon named Genesis, a product of an unnatural coupling between an angel and demon. Does that grab your attention? Good, because it's also considered by many comic books enthusiasts, including myself, to be one of the best comic book series of all time.

Fans have been begging for a television adaptation for nearly a decade, and in 2008 HBO almost delivered. Preacher was in the final stages of budget planning at HBO before the new head of the company "felt it was too dark and too violent and too controversial" . In turn, HBO instead chose to invest their money to produce the hit show True Blood, capitalizing on the then-hot vampire market. With AMC being synonymous with dark, violent and controversial, it's only safe to assume that Preacher is in the right hands.

This is great news for AMC, where even with its high ratings for the Breaking Bad finale (10.3 million) and its continued success with the Walking Dead franchise, the stock has been on a downward slope since hitting its high of $73.39 on Nov. 6, sliding to where its currently sitting at around $64.00, nearly a 15% drop. This occurred even after the company reported solid third quarter results, where revenue increased by 19.1% to $395 million and operating income increased 40.9% to $122 million. Net income increased by 63% to $58.1 million

It might not be surprising given that many doubt AMC will have another hit show outside of The Walking Dead following the end of Breaking Bad and Mad Men. It doesn't help that in the 12 months trailing September, basic cable subscriptions dropped by 1.8 million, with the majority of the run off occurring in the last three month period, during which time they lost a staggering 607,000 subscribers . The good news is that AMC's ratings have been resistant to the decline in cable subscribers. With a Walking Dead spin off announced for 2015, as well as the possibility of a successful Preacher pilot that can lead to the show being green lit, AMC looks to be in good shape for the long term. After all, AMC will have 75 issues of Preacher comics to work with, all of which were published between 1995 and 2000. 

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