New York City has survived the coronavirus pandemic, an economic downturn, and most recently, skies darkened by Canadian wildfires. What’s to fear from a looming zombie apocalypse?
On Wednesday, visitors to New York culinary mainstays such as Joe’s Pizza in Times Square, H&H Bagels, Katz’s Deli and Hot Dog King will find out. They are likely to encounter members of the undead stopping in for a bite. The zombies will have been planted there by AMC Networks, which is eager to woo attention to the debut of “The Walking Dead: Dead City,” the first of three spin-offs the company is launching following the last original broadcast of the seminal series “The Walking Dead.”
“We are obviously looking to raise awareness out there, and we think there’s an opportunity to bring in people who have fallen off over time and new viewers as well,” says Kim Granito, head of marketing for AMC Networks, in an interview. “One of the key points of differentiation with the new programs is that they are in pretty notable locations.”
In the past, “Walking Dead” had to rely solely on the series’ offbeat premise of watching survivors of a plague that turns people into the undead try to reclaim the world. Now, says Granito, AMC has help, because the show has never relied on a major global metropolis as a permanent setting (“Walking Dead” characters have visited cities in the past).
With “The Walking Dead” and the spin-off “Fear The Walking Dead” coming to an end, AMC is under some pressure to maintain its ties to the program that has lured some of its biggest audiences. The answer has come in the form of bespoke series centered on specific characters from the flagship. “Dead City” features Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan reprising the characters of Maggie and Negan, while a second series starring Norman Reedus will place Daryl Dixon around Paris and France.
In addition to setting a zombie horde consisting of dozens on New York City, AMC plans to have the aforementioned restaurants use packaging that features “Dead City” on it, including pizza boxes and bagel bags.
The six-episode “Dead City” debuts at 9 p.m. on Sunday, June 18. It will become available on the streaming service AMC+ on Thursday, June 15, and the season will continue to follow a pattern of launching new episodes on the streaming hub Thursdays followed by a linear premiere.
Billboards touting “Dead City” will be set in high-traffic areas including the area around Penn Station; in Times Square; at New York City bus stations; and at the 34th Street PATH station. Promotions for the series will crop up on Vizio TVs and in the Roku City hub on the Roku streaming service. And AMC will screen the first two episodes of the series at the Tribeca festival, followed by a reception with cast on Tuesday, June 13.
No word on whether the army of walkers set to invade New York on Wednesday will be looking for free food from the restaurants or preparing to make a snack of those who visit.