Amazon Scraps Plans For Nicolas Cage-Led ‘Tiger King’ Drama Series

Nicolas Cage and Joe Exotic
Kevin Winter/Getty Images;Netflix

The bubble might have finally burst on the Tiger King fascination as Amazon has backed out of plans to produce a scripted series inspired by the Netflix documentary.

Based on a Texas Monthly article, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness became a surprise hit upon its release in March 2020 when most of the world first entered lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Plans for a scripted adaptation soon followed in May 2020; however, Amazon has now decided not to move forward with the project.

Nicolas Cage was set to star in the series as Joe Exotic, the eccentric zoo owner at the center of the docuseries. Much like the Netflix doc, the show would revolve around Joe’s private zoo in Oklahoma and his ongoing feuds with rival zoo owners Carole Baskin and Jeff Lowe. It would also focus on how Joe became Joe Exotic and how he lost himself to a character of his own creation.

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MacLachlan's Howard Baskin supported his wife throughout the endeavor with Joe.

According to Variety, Cage said that Amazon had lost interest in the series and that Tiger King was “no longer relevant.” The streamer had originally picked up the project at the height of the docuseries popularity, with American Vandal‘s Dan Lagana on board as writer, showrunner, and executive producer. Lagana and Make Good Content’s Paul Young had optioned the Texas Monthly article back in June 2019.

“We should clear the record,” Cage told Variety. “I read two excellent scripts, which I did think were excellent, but I think Amazon ultimately felt that it was material that had become past tense because it took so long for it come together. They felt at one point that it was lightning in a bottle, but that point has since faded into the distance and it’s no longer relevant.”

Intended to be an eight-episode series, Lagana had already written two scripts. CBS TV Studios, where Lagana has an overall deal, and Imagine were set to produce the series. Young was to serve as an executive producer alongside Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Samie Kim Falvey, Cage (via his Saturn Films), and Scott Brown and Megan Creydt of Texas Monthly. It’s expected the project will be shopped to other outlets.

While one Tiger King project falls, another remains on the horizon. Peacock is in production on Joe Exotic, based on the Wondery podcast of the same name and centered on big cat enthusiast Carole Baskin (played by SNL‘s Kate McKinnon). Shrill star John Cameron Mitchell will play Joe Exotic, while Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) will portray Carole’s husband, Howard Baskin. NBC has yet to announce the premiere date for the series.