Nicolas Cage’s ‘Tiger King’ Movie Could’ve Been an Oscar Contender

One of the most buzz-worthy TV shows during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic was Tiger King, which was an outrageous, hilarious, and often horrifying look at the story of Joe Exotic, a zookeeper and convicted felon. The Netflix series caused a firestorm on social media, with fans of all ages chatting about the series and talking about how thrilling a feature film about the characters would be. When it was announced that Nicolas Cage would be playing Joe Exotic in a Tiger King movie, people were thrilled. However, in a recent interview, Cage revealed that the biopic is on indefinite hold — leaving many fans to contemplate what could have been. 

‘Tiger King’ became a pop culture hot topic in early 2020

'The Tiger King' Joe Exotic
Joe exotic and a tiger from ‘The Tiger King.’ | Netflix

Tiger King was released to Netflix in March 2020. Under normal conditions, the documentary series might simply have slipped under the radar or earned a small, devoted fanbase. However, due to the fact that the series started streaming during the earliest days of the COVID-19 lockdown, it quickly became a viral sensation with millions of fans streaming the series on a daily basis.

The series tells the story of Joe Exotic, an eccentric zookeeper who is currently serving time in prison. In addition to Exotic himself, the documentary focuses on personalities like Carole Baskin, Exotic’s rival and fellow animal enthusiast, “Doc” Antle, the director of The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species and a very controversial figure himself. Tiger King is outrageous and bizarre, a series that highlights the obsessive world of exotic animal collecting — along with the many problems that can ensue when someone becomes entranced with their own image. 

Nicolas Cage was originally set to portray Joe Exotic in a ‘Tiger King’ movie

In the weeks following the initial release of Tiger King, filmmakers scrambled to capitalize on the show’s success. In short order, it was revealed that Cage had been cast as Joe Exotic in a brand-new scripted biopic that featured a star-studded production team. Right out of the gate, fans couldn’t stop talking about how perfect Cage would be for the role of Joe Exotic. 

Cage has portrayed eccentric characters on screen before, most notably in the 2002 film Adaptation, where he played a toothless man named John Laroche who slowly spirals into desperation as he attempts to adapt the book “The Orchid Thief” to the big screen. As some have pointed out, the character of Laroche bears a distinct resemblance to the outrageous Joe Exotic himself. 

Nicolas Cage revealed that the ‘Tiger King’ movie has been shelved

After months of no news on the planned Tiger King biopic, Cage gave fans an update in a recent interview. “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 to come together,” Cage told Variety. “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.”

While viewers won’t get the chance to see Cage as Joe Exotic anytime soon, diehard Cage fans can catch him in his latest project — Pig, a movie about a lone truffle hunter who is forced to return to civilization after his beloved pig is kidnapped. The movie is earning Cage some serious praise and could result in even more critical acclaim for the award-winning actor. Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for all the latest entertainment news!

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