Netflix has a huge Witcher problem after Bloodborne prequel
The Witcher: Bloodborne appeared to be a flop for Netflix, putting the future of the franchise in question following the exit of Henry Cavill.
This article contains spoilers for The Witcher: Blood Origin.
After the release of The Witcher: Blood Origins, The Witcher series is in serious trouble. Starring Henry Cavill as Geralt and Freya Allen as his young guardian Ciri, 2019's first season of The Witcher was a hit on Netflix. It ranks in the top 0.2% of most-demanded TV shows, according to third-party analytics firm Parrot Analytics. Netflix wasted no time renewing the fantasy series, but they went one step further. They started working hard to turn The Witcher into the next big franchise.
Netflix's approach is unusual. There's now some form of The Witcher spinoff between each season, exploring the history of the continent and providing important new information. The latest series, The Witcher: Bloodborne, is a major backstory, telling the true story of the Confluence of the Spheres - a cosmic event that brought monsters and humans to the continent. The end of The Witcher: Origins of Blood ties these events to Ciri via a new prophecy, which is a clever narrative move that should help ensure the franchise remains cohesive. Unfortunately, while Netflix's approach may have been well thought out, it sadly looks like it's failing.
The Witcher: Blood Origin Isn't Good Enough To Maintain Interest
The first two seasons of The Witcher were a huge success. The casting choices are inspired, the script is smart, the overall narrative is engaging, and the visuals are stunning. However, The Witcher: Bloodborne failed to hit anywhere near that benchmark, and was panned by fans and critics alike. Reviews for The Witcher: Bloodborne have been terrible, especially the critical pacing; Netflix unwisely cut the series from six to four, meaning the characters never had time to develop and the basic twists felt like Artificial plot design. Instead of encouraging interest in further spinoffs, the Netflix TV show raises the question of whether the franchise is worth the investment.
The Witcher: Blood Origin Has Released At The Worst Possible Time
Of course, every franchise stumbles, but the timing of The Witcher: Origins made things worse. The prequel series comes as audiences are already questioning the future of the wizard due to Henry Cavill's high-profile exit. A big fan of Andrej Sapkowski's books, Cavill is believed to have grown unhappy as the main series strayed more and more from the source material. The changes have sparked controversy in the industry fanbase, but they seem to have cost The Witcher its star right now. Netflix has cast Liam Hemsworth in the role, but few believe the recast will work.
Netflix hopes to build a huge franchise around The Witcher, but those dreams are being reduced to ashes. This continued failure is especially problematic given that the streaming giant had hoped The Witcher would fill the void left by the imminent end of its biggest franchise yet, Stranger Things -- and it's hard to believe that will be the case. The timing couldn't be worse for a The Witcher prequel, and Netflix needs to find a way to adjust to that. The Witcher: Blood Origins may well have sealed the series' fate, as Netflix looks elsewhere for their next big thing.