Following weeks of negotiations that included Sony Pictures TV exploring opportunities with other networks, AMC and the content producer have reached an agreement for a fifth and final season of Breaking Bad.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but production will begin early next year on the 16-episode order. The launch date and the scheduling breakdown of the final campaign have not yet been determined, according to AMC.
The critically acclaimed series' fourth season premiered on July 18 to its highest ratings ever for the series. Thus far, household ratings are up 30% above season three, with 28% more total viewers and over 45% more persons 18 to 34.
Breaking Bad has garnered 16 Emmy nominations and six wins, including three straight for lead actor Bryan Cranston, who portrays Walt White, a high school chemistry who discovers he has cancer and is given two years to live. Given his prognosis, White wants to secure his family's finances and turns to a life of cooking and selling crystal meth.
"Watching this story evolve into the complex, compelling, and intense roller coaster ride that it has become has been an incredible creative experience for everyone at AMC," said AMC president Charlie Collier in a statement. "While it is sad to even contemplate the end of the series, we are so happy to have had the chance to go on this ride, and truly look forward to presenting the rest of this amazing story."
Noted creator Vince Gilligan: "It's a funny irony -- I'd hate to know the date of my own last day on earth, but I'm delighted to know what Walter White's will be (episodically speaking). This is a great gift to me and to my wonderful writers. It's knowledge which will allow us to properly build our story to a satisfying conclusion. Now, if we don't manage to pull that off, we've got no one to blame but ourselves."
The deal with SPT follows the departure of show runner Frank Darabont from high-rated zombie series The Walking Dead and prolonged negotiations with Lionsgate over a renewal for a fifth season of the three-time Emmy-winning drama, Mad Men. Those discussions pushed the campaign into 2012, rather than its typical summer start.