A decade after first meeting the Tiger King AKA Joe Exotic, and having no idea how crazy things would get, documentary filmmaker and journalist Louis Theroux is developing an all-new feature-length documentary exploring the controversial figure. Currently titled Louis Theroux: The Cult of Joe Exotic, the movie will revisit the various events that have unfolded in the world of exotic-animal ownership in the decade since he last chronicled the figure, in addition to depicting the fandom that Exotic has earned in the time since his incarceration.
“This is one of those quintessentially American stories, taking place in the heartland of Oklahoma, with a cast of characters almost too colorful and larger-than-life to be believed,” Louis Theroux shared in a statement. “I spent eight or nine days filming at the park back in 2011, over the course of three separate visits. I’d forgotten how much we shot until I went back into the footage during lockdown. It’s extraordinary how much was there. Since then the story just got stranger and bigger, and in going back at the end of last year I uncovered a real-life drama that took me in directions I never could have expected.”
Before rising to fame (and infamy) in Netflix’s hugely popular series, Tiger King: Murder, Madness, and Mayhem, Joe Exotic featured in Theroux’s 2011 BBC documentary America’s Most Dangerous Pets. While nobody could have predicted the events that would unfold, watching this glimpse into Exotic’s bizarre activities with the gift on hindsight does tease the mayhem that was to come.
Theroux’s follow-up has been described as, “Heading back to Oklahoma, Theroux will explore what has happened since, with the big cat man now residing in a federal prison, having been found guilty of a murder-for-hire plot and multiple animal cruelty charges. But rather than a pariah, Exotic is now a media phenomenon with a well-funded campaign team who were attempting to win him a presidential pardon.”
Clare Sillery, BBC’s head of commissioning, documentaries, history, and religion, added, “In this follow-up to Louis’ revelatory first-look at the life of Joe Exotic in America’s Most Dangerous Pets, viewers will be taken even more deeply into the weird world of one of America’s most notorious figures. This feature-length special will be full to the brim with never-before-seen footage and brand new interviews with those on all sides of the Joe Exotic story.”
A massive hit for Netflix, Tiger King: Murder, Madness, and Mayhem delves into the stranger-than-fiction world of big cat owners, focussing on Joe Exotic, a mulleted, gun-toting polygamist and country-western singer who presides over an Oklahoma roadside zoo. Things take a dark turn when Carole Baskin, an animal activist and owner of a big cat sanctuary, threatens to Exotic out of business, stoking a rivalry that eventually leads to Joe’s arrest for a murder-for-hire plot.
Exotic is currently serving a 22-year sentence for multiple counts of animal abuse and his hiring of a would-be assassin to kill Carol Baskin. There are currently several adaptations of these events in the works, including an eight-episode scripted series based on Tiger King with Nicolas Cage playing Joe Exotic. This comes to us courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.