Idris Elba’s BBC copper TV series, Luther, will soon be no more. This according to creator Neil Cross, whose show begins its final season for US audiences next week (the series’ final season has already aired in the UK). Before you sink into a well of despair or tear apart a door with your bare bloody hands, though, know this: like an intense and stubble-faced phoenix rising from the ashes, Luther shall return, coming to the big screen if Cross has his way.
Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Cross acknowledged the show’s unsurprising death sentence (confirming what he had initially forecast back in March of 2012) and briefly discussed his plans for the character going forward.
Here’s Cross on the shape of a Luther film:
“Idris is a brilliant leading man and we’ve hoped to turn Luther into a movie for a long time. It will follow his career in the earlier days, when he is still married to Zoe, and the final scene in the film is the first of the initial TV series.”
So, a prequel. There is certainly an appetite among fans to see DCI John Luther’s past fleshed out – especially when said fans realize that this is their only means of securing a fix – but it’s important to note that this is not Cross’ first stab at peeling back Luther’s layers. In 2011, Cross authored a prequel novel, Luther: The Calling, which also took us right up to the start of the series. Will the prequel novel mirror or at least inspire the film? Perhaps, but in the very least, this project will have something that the novel could not: Idris Elba’s hurricane like portrayal of the damaged detective.
The prequel film, as laid out, would also have to have Indira Varma reprising her role as Zoe, though one wonders if we’ll be shown Zoe and John Luther during happier times, or if we’ll see the bitter beginning of the end.
One character who is not a part of Luther’s un-aired past is Alice, a fan favorite who could be seen as a large missing chunk from this project. That is unless Cross’ already completed script also found a way to weave in an Alice appearance and a few other bits from the Luther’s future as well.
As for the prospects of this project actually happening, there is some precedent in the form of In the Loop, the sorta theatrical spin-off of The Thick of It. Like that film, it’s easy to assume that the rewards for a Luther film will come more from acclaim and a cult-fan powered slow burn toward fiscal glory when it comes to the stateside reaction. That’s not to say that such a film couldn’t be prosperous in the US, and it certainly has a more accessible format than In the Loop. However, the relatively small size of the built in audience demands a realistic definition of the term “prosperous” – and a willingness from the studio to be pleasantly surprised by the power of word of mouth, curiosity, and Idris Elba’s growing box office might as a leading man.
Who knows? While it’s not James Bond, maybe Luther will wind up giving Idris Elba the film franchise that many of his fans have been hungering for.
Luther returns to BBC America on September 3rd @10PM.
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