'The Walking Dead' renewed for season 8: Have zombies peaked in pop culture?

The massive AMC hit 'Walking' will return for at least one more season, with its seventh season set to debut Oct. 23. Are zombies and other supernatural creatures still popular?

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
'The Walking Dead' stars Andrew Lincoln (l.) and Danai Gurira (r.).

The AMC show “The Walking Dead” has been renewed for an eighth season as the TV drama continues its popularity, despite some similarly themed projects struggling at movie theaters.

“Walking,” which takes place in a world where zombies are a constant threat, debuts its seventh season on Oct. 23. The series stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, and Melissa McBride and is a consistently strong ratings performer for its network, with the show having topped the ratings juggernaut “Sunday Night Football” with viewers 18-49 in the past. 

Last season, however, Deadline writer Dominic Patten noted season six's final episode's ratings had declined from the season before. Nothing else has taken its crown, however, wrote Mr. Patten. “Despite a Season 6 that has seen dips and declines from the series’ previous ratings pinnacles, the show based on Robert Kirkman’s comics is still far and away the top-rated series on all of TV,” Patten wrote of “Walking.” 

“Walking” remains one of the success stories in the zombie genre. Stories about the creatures haven’t always succeeded at the box office, however. A film hit arrived in 2013 with “World War Z,” a movie starring Brad Pitt that depicted the world struggling against zombies. “Z” became the 13th-highest-grossing film of the year domestically.

Other recent efforts have struggled to find audiences, however. Earlier this year, a film adaptation of the bestselling book “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” did not succeed with moviegoers, and the 2015 film “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” similarly struggled (though the film was not shown in some theaters because of a controversy over a Paramount distribution initiative). In 2013, “Warm Bodies,” a film with zombie themes, performed fairly well, but it didn’t crack the top 50 for the domestically highest-performing movies of that year. 

The last time a film featuring supernatural creatures became a big blockbuster may have been the “Twilight” series, which concluded in 2012. The five movies based on the hugely popular books placed in the top 10 of domestically highest-grossing movies for each of their respective years. 

But supernatural creatures, including zombies, have been absent from those lists in the years following. Since 2012, Marvel superheroes, Disney and Universal animated films, the fantasy-based “Hobbit” movies, and the “Hunger Games” films (which take place in a dystopian future world, but one without vampire or zombie threats), among other projects, have dominated the domestic top 10.

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