Longmire fans’ dedication to saving the show has paid off. I’ve learned that Netflix, following several weeks of negotiations, has closed a deal for a 10-episode fourth season of the drama series to premiere in 2015 in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The news comes less than three months after Longmire‘s surprise cancellation by A&E after three seasons. It triggered one of the biggest outpourings of fan support ever for an axed TV series. The cast members, led by Robert Taylor and Katee Sackhoff, have all made their deals for Season 4. That doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will return — Season 3 ended in a cliffhanger, with characters’ lives in the balance, and I hear an exit is likely. More about the plot of Season 4 in a moment.
Following the cancellation by A&E, Longmire producer Warner Horizon launched efforts to find a new home for the series. It put together a detailed pitch highlighting the show’s performance and fan following, as well as a road map for Season 4. The company cast a wide net, though Netflix and Amazon were identified as primary targets from the get-go, with Netflix considered the most logical destination for the series; the service already has the rights to the previous seasons as part of its multi-series streaming deal with Warner Bros.
Based on the mystery novels by best-selling author Craig Johnson, Longmire, is a contemporary crime thriller that stars Taylor as Walt Longmire, the charismatic, dedicated and unflappable sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, along with Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips, Bailey Chase, Cassidy Freeman and Adam Bartley. Hunt Baldwin, John Coveny, Greer Shephard and Michael M. Robin serve as executive producers. The series, from the Shephard/Robin Co. in association with Warner Horizon, eyes a tentative March production start date.
“When Warner Horizon Television came to us with the idea for a new season of Longmire, we were intrigued because the series is so unique, and consistently great,” said Cindy Holland, Netflix VP of Original Content. “We are thrilled to help continue Walt Longmire’s story for his large and passionate following.”
Netflix similarly rescued another cancelled cable drama, The Killing. It commissioned a final season of the mystery series on top of the existing seasons it had rights to.
Season four of Longmire picks up moments after season three’s explosive finale. Walt Longmire (Taylor), having found out who was behind the murder of his wife, succumbs to his darker impulses and takes off in pursuit of the killer with revenge on his mind. Meanwhile, Branch Connally (Bailey Chase), the deputy who Walt fired for erratic, violent behavior, believes he has already figured out who the real culprit is. During his confrontation with this suspected killer, a gun goes off. Fans will find out what happened, and whether Walt can be stopped before he makes a fatal choice.
Longmire was A&E’s most-watched original scripted series, averaging 5.6 million viewers in Season 3, a slight dip from Season 2’s nearly 6 million average with a much weaker lead-in. Despite its large audience, A&E insiders argued that the show was not profitable because advertisers, who pay a premium to reach younger audiences, undervalue older-skewing shows like Longmire. That’s not an issue for subscription-based services like Netflix.