Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: AMC has closed a deal to renew Vince Gilligan’s dark drama Breaking Bad for a fourth season. The network is expected to make the announcement tomorrow, following tonight’s third season finale. The deal had been in the works for almost two months, after the network first notified the auspices on the Sony TV-produced series of the pickup in April. I hear the sticking issue between AMC and Sony was the budget for the upcoming season, with the network eyeing a production budget of about $3.1 million per episode, while the show’s creative team was pulling for $3.3 million. After weeks of crunching numbers, I hear the two sides came to an agreement, splitting the budget gap in the middle. Breaking Bad earned two Emmys for star Bryan Cranston and a best series nomination last year. It is considered a formidable drama contender again this year, with its nomination chances boosted by the fact that its third season culminated during the Emmy voting period. Gilligan has said that he intends to set an end date for the series, which would likely run for two more seasons.

UPDATE MONDAY AM: AMC just issued a press release announcing the pickup:

New York, June 14, 2010 – AMC announced today the renewal of its Emmy Award-winning and critically acclaimed drama series “Breaking Bad” for a fourth season. From acclaimed writer/producer/director Vince Gilligan, the series follows the story of a desperate man who turns to a life of crime to secure his family’s financial security. “Breaking Bad’s” first two seasons awarded Bryan Cranston the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, which marked the only time an actor from basic cable has ever been recognized with back-to-back Emmy Awards.

Last night, AMC premiered the final episode from season three. Household ratings are 20% stronger than season two and season three is delivering 18% more total viewers and over 30% more adults 18-34 than last season.  “Breaking Bad” is filmed on location in Albuquerque, NM.

“AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’ is one of the most layered and intense dramas on television today,” said Joel Stillerman, SVP of original programming, production and digital content. “Vince Gilligan and his team deliver bold storylines that truly push the psychic envelope and create a mesmerizing, exhilarating television experience.”

“Breaking Bad’s” third second season premiered on Sunday, March 21 to the highest ratings ever for the series. “Breaking Bad” stars Cranston, Emmy-nominated Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Giancarlo Esposito and Jonathan Banks. “Breaking Bad” is produced by High Bridge Prods. and Gran Via Prods. in association with Sony Pictures TV. Executive producers are Vince Gilligan and Mark Johnson.

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