The Netflix TV Witcher Series Could be Just What Video Game Adaptations Need
Although the franchise can trace its origins to a series of best-selling books, the Netflix Witcher TV show could prove to be a huge boon for video game adaptations.
After plenty of fan-casting and speculation, the Netflix adaptation of the Witcher series has found its lead. Details on the deal haven’t been announced yet, but actor Henry Cavill has agreed to take on the lead role as Geralt of Rivia.
Cavill posted the news himself on his Instagram page, and from there it was racing around the internet faster than a press release ever could. Netflix and showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich both confirmed the news soon after and even added the reveal that the series would be eight episodes long. Additional casting news should come soon.
It’s important to note that Netflix and Hissrich are both pointing to the books as the inspiration for the TV show, but CD Projekt Red’s game series had a huge hand in helping to spread the popularity of the character. The three Witcher titles have sold over 33 million copies worldwide, with the most recent game, 2015’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, responsible for the majority of those sales. The game went on to win dozens of awards, including several “Game of the Year” honors.
Cavill has been talking about the Witcher for months, if not years now, claiming he’d be interested in playing Geralt. He even posted a piece of fan art that shows what he might look like as the main character. Both the image and Cavill’s love of the property seem to stem from the game – and that’s good news for live action game adaptations everywhere.
To be very clear, The Witcher is the creation of Polish writer Andrzej Sapokowski. The author has released eight books following Geralt, both novels and short story collections. There have been previous film and TV adaptations in Poland based on Sapokowki’s, and the original series has a big cult following in Eastern Europe. The games, however, have helped elevate it far beyond what it was though In 2011, when then-President Obama met with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and exchanged gifts (as is customary), Tusk gave Obama a collector’s edition of The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings. So while the Witcher us undeniably born of literature, the Netflix show owes much of its existence to the games.
The Netflix TV series will rely heavily on the books (just as the games do), and Sapokowski will act as a consulting producer. But even if the series is a scene-for-scene remake of the books, this is good news for the game industry as a whole. Bringing on someone with the popularity and talent of Cavill – soon after a hugely praised turn in the box office crushing Mission: Impossible – Fallout – is a huge coup for the production. It further legitimizes an already high profile series, and will likely attract a huge number of gaming fans that may not know of the series history as books, but will certainly have heard of the games. It could also help lead to other big names joining the cast.
Of course, good casting and a great situation don’t automatically ensure a successful project. Netflix’s Witcher adaptation could still be a mess, but so far things look good. And if it pulls it off and wins over fans – regardless of origin as a book series – it could be the missing key that unlocks the flood of successful game adaptations.