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Boasting almost five million viewers an episode and a pretty rabid fanbase, it was widely assumed Longmire would be auto-stamped for approval by A&E to film another season, but shockingly, the network decided to go in a different direction. Last night, the adaptation of Craig Johnson’s mystery novels was up and cancelled with little more than a short, overly professional statement. It deserved so much better.
According to Deadline, Warner Horizons, the studio that funds and produces Longmire is planning to try and sell the show to another network as soon as possible. Given the show’s excellent ratings (4.6 million per episode average), it’s likely someone else will take a bit if the price is right. It’s one thing to cancel a popular show with slumping ratings after it’s already been on the air for seven or eight years and has ballooned in cost. It’s another thing to cut a show down in its prime just because it’s off its Season 2 average (6.1 million).
There’s some speculation that the move is the result of a shift in behind the scenes strategies at A&E. Executives are allegedly pushing for more control over their programs and perhaps more importantly, a larger profit margin. As such, they supposedly want to focus on putting together projects they own, as well as air. That’s obviously the ideal in theory, but it’s hard to see why they couldn’t just phase in the plan as they start generating new content, as opposed to blowing it up and starting immediately, especially when it means bailing on hits.
Here’s the transcript of the official statement released by A&E…
“We would like to thank the phenomenal cast, crew and producers of Longmire, along with our partners at Warner Horizon, for their tireless work on three seasons of quality dramatic storytelling. We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved together.”
For those of you who don’t watch Longmire, I will be as vague as possible when talking about the character arc of the show. That being said, if you’re overly cautious, you may want to bail now.
Season 3 of Longmire ended with one of the lead characters possibly being straight up murdered. We don’t know for sure, but something really shady went down. Sometimes shows deliberately end on cliffhangers in order to nudge the network toward another season, but it’s hard to imagine that was actually the case here. As the highest rated scripted show (see: not Duck Dynasty) on A&E, the producers likely thought they would skate forward for a number of years without even worrying about their fates. In fact, it’s likely the biggest worry on their minds was the possibility of Katee Sackhoff getting too popular to carry forward with the show.
We’ll keep you updated on the fate of Longmire once it becomes clear whether or not another network is planning to bite. Until then, go to church and light a candle in Walt Longmire’s honor. He needs it right now.