Breaking Bad, whose future was caught in a battle between Sony and AMC over the past several months, has finally been renewed for a fifth and final season with one caveat.
AMC placed the order for 16 additional episodes, but production will not get underway until next year. Rather than air them all as a single season, AMC is expected to break them up into two or more smaller seasons to extend the show into at least 2013.
Although it would be painful for fans, AMC could also opt to skip 2012 altogether and resume Breaking Bad in 2013. They’ve already taken a similar route in their decision to not air new episodes of Mad Men this year and instead resume them in 2012. The 2012 shooting date seems to point toward this direction.
Negotiations between AMC and Sony centered around the number of episodes each side wanted to produce. AMC was pushing for 6-8. Sony, meanwhile, wanted 13 episodes.
Success has caused growing pains at AMC as they’ve battled with production costs. Frank Darabont was ousted from The Walking Dead after arguing against trimming the budget amongst other reasons, while Mad Men showrunner Matt Weiner demanded more pay and eventually won with some speculating his salary has negatively impacted other shows. Not airing Mad Men in 2011 and Breaking Bad in 2012 would help spread out the programming costs.