Earlier this week, word broke that negotiations between Sony Pictures Television and AMC over the fifth and final season of "Breaking Bad" had become so tense that Sony TV began shopping it around to other networks. One of the sticking points was rumored to be AMC's attempt to convince Sony and "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan to run a shortened fifth season of six to eight episodes.
According to Deadline, the negotiations between Sony TV and AMC are still alive, but only ten days remain until the previous license fee deal expires. Although Sony has reportedly received interest from FX about picking up the series, AMC has upped its offer back up to a traditional 13 episode season order.
However, Sony is said to be looking for a longer deal of up to 20 episodes; which would possibly be split over two seasons. Also a major issue is the cost of the show, which the network is traditionally supposed to fully fund beginning in the fifth season of a series. "Breaking Bad" has a relatively high budget for a cable series at $3.2 million per episode, so AMC is attempting to get Sony to pay part of the costs as well.
During a separate interview with Deadline, AMC President Charlie Collier refused to comment on whether AMC attempted to shorten the fifth season of "Breaking Bad." And when Collier was directly asked if AMC had cut the budget for "The Walking Dead" (as previously reported), his verbal dodge was so athletic that he's already won the next season of "Dancing With The Stars."
"If you look at pilot budgets vs. pattern budgets usually the pilot budget is much higher than what ends up being the pattern budget," said Collier. "With 'The Walking Dead,' instead of doing a pilot, we went straight to 6 episodes because we believed in the team and the talent in front and behind the camera. Then we came back with a 13-episode second season, and amortization over 13 episodes is very different than over 6. But we settled into one of the highest pattern budgets for a basic cable series."
In a follow up question, Collier again refuses to give a yes or no answer to the query. It should be noted that The Los Angeles Times reported that "The Walking Dead" budget cuts amounted to about $250,000 less per episode. It's currently unknown if that played a factor in the sudden departure of Frank Darabont from "The Walking Dead."
The fourth season of "Breaking Bad" is currently airing Sunday nights on AMC, with "The Walking Dead" set to return on Sunday, October 16.