Amazon Studios announces they've signed a TV development deal with Luke Cage showrunner, Cheo Hodari Coker. Coker led the show to great critical and audience success over two seasons, before it was cancelled a week after Iron Fist. The show was highly regarded for Mike Colter's performance as the titular character, as well as its social commentaries explored through modern-day Harlem. Coker had presumably planned for the third season to probe the relationships between corruption and power further, following Luke's ascension to the 'sheriff' of Harlem. It's been implied, but not confirmed that Luke, who was a recurring character in season 1 of Jessica Jones, will be appearing in the sister-series' third season.
The cancellation of Netflix Original Marvel TV shows has been at least partly attributed to Disney's launch of their own streaming service, Disney+, to rival Netflix. Although the head of the new service Kevin Mayer stated that Disney is open to revamping the Marvel shows once the rights agreement with Netflix expires in 2020, Coker's Amazon deal marks another key creative force behind the projects out of the picture indefinitely. Jessica Jones showrunner Melissa Rosenberg is moving to Warner Bros. Television following the third season, and despite its considerable ratings success, Daredevil has had a different showrunner every season. But for dedicated fans of Coker's work in and out of the Marvel universe, the Amazon move opens up an exciting list of possibilities.
THR broke the news that Coker, who was known for thrillers like Notorious and Southland prior to Luke Cage, is signed on to Amazon under his Fighting 99th Entertainment label, which will make his shows available in over 200 countries. Co-head of TV at Amazon Studio Vernon Sanders said:
"We're very excited to welcome Cheo to the Amazon Studios family. From Notorious to Luke Cage, Cheo is a provocative, revolutionary storyteller, and we're happy he'll be creating those kinds of bold new series exclusively for Prime Video."
Coker joins a growing list of highly accomplished creators signed on with Amazon, including Jordan Peele (Get Out), Reed Morano (The Handmaid's Tale), Neil Gaiman (American Gods), Amy Sherman-Palladino (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and Jill Soloway (Transparent). He was rumored to have strained relationships with Disney and Netflix over the creative direction for Luke Cage season 3, and has now come out in support of Amazon's philosophy of content development and supporting its creators.
"Amazon is the future, and their bespoke, specific approach to building groundbreaking shows offers an amazing opportunity, one that I'm incredibly thankful for. I can't think of a better place to launch the first shows developed under my Seattle-based Fighting 99th Entertainment banner and am excited for people to see what we have in store."
Disney made recent headlines, announcing the wide selections of TV and movie brands it will offer following its pending deals with Fox and Hulu, while Netflix has been closing deals with towering showrunners, including Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy, and Marti Noxon. But for Coker, the move to Amazon may be perfectly on-brand. His projects, to which Luke Cage was no exception, have been gut-wrenching, full of raw characters, and unapologetically political. Amazon Prime has echoed similar sentiments by creating and offering shows like Transparent, The Man In The High Castle, and Good Girls Revolt. Whatever Coker brings to the table for a growing power player like Amazon is almost certain to bump up their subscription rates.