Some of the best movies have come from contemporary fantasy, including The Golden Compass (based on the first novel in Phillip Pullman’s trilogy Dark Materials) and the Harry Potter franchise from the J.K. Rowling series of the same name. Next up: The Witcher, based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s collections of stories about a monster hunter named Geralt of Rivia, coming to Netflix in 2020.
Adapting the Epics
The Witcher was also successfully adapted into a best-selling, award-winning video game franchise. This is no small feat when you consider that some of its literary forbears did not achieve the same level of simulated storytelling grandeur so quickly.
The Lord of the Rings has seen some good playable role-playing games (RPGs), such as LOTR: The Third Age and the Shadow of Mordor titles, but they never fully captured the adventure and magical realism. While The Chronicles of Narnia enjoyed a great run as a short BBC series, it lost some of its mystique with a cringe-worthy lot of horrible films and games.
It’s not all bad, though. The quality of any given adaptation depends on the creative team. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Phillipa Boyens and Barrie Osbourne worked to create the LOTR trilogy, defying studio exec’s expectations to became some of the greatest modern films of all time, and the many creators and directors behind A Game of Thrones have seen that series become one of the most popular television productions ever. Will The Witcher be a similar hit?
What We Know About “The Witcher” So Far
Altered Carbon, Death Note, and Disenchantment: you can see Netflix is trying to win through its bold programming choices. Yet these did not have the challenge of adapting a 13th Century, Euro-Polish-Scandinavian-style land known as The Continent, populated by Fiends, Drowners, Katakans, and other vicious monsters. Then there are the cities and provinces filled with dwarfs, elves, and other magical creatures living side-by-side with humans. Nor did these other shows have the challenge of casting the White Wolf, the Butcher of Blaviken, whom many fans have come to know through CD Projekt Red’s character design and Doug Cockle’s voice acting.
What we do know about The Witcher series’ current development is that the show will run for eight episodes and will be shot in Eastern Europe, possibly Budapest or Hungary. Although the casting has not been officially announced yet, it hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from listing Henry Cavill (Superman), Mads Mikkelsen (Dr. Strange), and Idris Elba (Thor) as possible choices. Yet others believe Viggo Mortensen and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau deserve a shot at portraying the dual sword-wielding warrior. Lastly, despite a far-off release date, the Daily Star UK says Netflix has already released its key plot line: “The witcher Geralt, a mutated monster hunter, struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more wicked than beasts.” Aside from the books, if that doesn’t sell you, nothing will!