‘The Witcher’ Season 1 hasn’t even debuted on Netflix, but series creator and showrunner, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, is already thinking far, far ahead. Speaking to SFX, she stated that she already has the series sketched out for seven seasons!
“I’ve [mapped out stories] for seven seasons. Right now it’s just about, ‘how do you set up stories that really capture audiences for years at a time?’ The worst thing we could do is put all of our energies just into season one, and not be thinking about where these characters can grow to.”
(This is pretty much the exact OPPOSITE of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss‘ fake-it-till-you-make-it approach to ‘Game of Thrones’, as they have recently been blabbing about… which reportedly got them fired from ‘Star Wars’. But that’s tea for another party.)
We’ll have to wait and see how people react to the show when it premiers in December, to figure out if there is even enough of a fan base to warrant a second season.
If ‘The Witcher’ does make it to seven seasons, it will tie with Netflix’s current longest-running drama series, ‘Orange Is the New Black’, the final season of which dropped in July. The comedy ‘The Ranch’ is ending after eight, but that is a considerably cheaper production. (Technically, ‘Orange Is the New Black’ is also cheaper than ‘The Witcher’.) Cartoon ‘Voltron: Legendary Defender’ also lasted for eight, and another, ‘Spirit Riding Free: Pony Tales’ has released eight and is awaiting renewal for a ninth. (Once again, cheaper.)
But when it comes to more expensive sci-fi and fantasy shows, those have a rockier track record, with some not making it past one season, and others being canned after two or three, even with strong streams. Because of the huge budgets, these types of programs can’t just be kind of popular, or attract a small devoted cult. (Like ‘Sense8’, ‘Marco Polo’, ‘Hemlock Grove’, etc.) They have to be breakout hits that appeal to a huge mixed audience. Among comparable shows, ‘Stranger Things‘ and ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina‘ have been renewed up through a fourth season each. And in both of those cases, they not only appeal to a broad demographic, but specifically to the ultra-desirable teen and young adult crowd– the types with disposable income to spend on Funko Pops and branded clothing and limited edition Coke bottles, and so forth– not to mention the free time to spend binge-watching entire seasons in one sitting.
‘The Witcher’s first season budget is reportedly $70-80 million, which gives Hissrich and her crew about $10 million per episode to play with. (There are eight episodes in the first season.) This budget is on par with that of ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Lost in Space’. While ‘Stranger Things’ is a certified bonanza, ‘Lost in Space‘ could be the show to watch, at least in terms of performance and renewals, to get an idea of how long ‘The Witcher’ will really last. ‘Lost in Space’ is expensive and Netflix spent another fortune promoting the first season, and while it earned a sophomore return, it hasn’t become a must-see across-the-board hit. So if ‘The Witcher’ similarly arrives and doesn’t become a buzzworthy “watercooler” series, we might get a second, maybe even third season.
Then again, it could, as Netflix is praying, become “the next ‘Game of Thrones’.” If that happens, Hissrich’s vision could come to full fruition!
Are you looking forward to ‘The Witcher’s arrival on December 20?