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Netflix’s The Witcher Showrunner Discusses Pilot Episode, Series’ Accessibility

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The script for the pilot episode of the upcoming Netflix adaptation of The Witcher has now been completed, according to its showrunner. Series creator and writer Lauren Schmidt Hissrich took to Twitter earlier to confirm the news, as well as provide an insight into her own experience with the existing fantasy franchise.

While the Witcher is perhaps best known for the critically acclaimed CD Projekt Red-developed video game series its universe has spawned, the franchise started life in 1986 as a Polish language short story by writer Andrzej Sapkowski. Following rave reviews, the original tale soon gave way to additional short stories, and later, a full saga of full-length novels. In the Witcher universe – a fantastical medieval setting – the “witchers” in question are monster hunters who are able to develop supernatural abilities in order to give them the edge in a battle against their foes.

It is the books, rather than the video games, that will form the basis for the television adaptation, with Sapkowski serving as a creative consultant on the series; film and TV companies the Sean Daniel Company and Platige Image partnering to produce the live-action show; Tomasz Bagiński directing and Schmidt Hissrich being showrunner and writer.

In announcing the completion of the show’s pilot script, Schmidt Hissrich also fielded a number of fan questions about the series and how she’d come to be involved in its creation. “I’d read The Last Wish and Blood of Elves, and had just started Sword of Destiny,” she said, in regards to the novels saga. “The rest of the books were read once I knew that the show was a possibility!”

In response to a fan asking whether viewers would need to have read the books and played the games before watching the show, the Daredevil and The Defenders writer stated: “‘Need’ is a strong word. If I do my job correctly, anyone should be able to enjoy the series, even if they’ve never heard of these characters. (I love GoT but haven’t read the books). That said — read the books! They’re so good!”

The Game of Thrones reference is an intriguing but perhaps inevitable one; fans of The Witcher have long called for a TV series in the same vein of HBO’s fantasy epic, and Sapkowski will be hopeful of emulating the crossover success of the George R.R. Martin series, which has gone on to spawn numerous video games, merchandise and even an iGaming slots on sites such as NetBet Casino since its TV adaptation hit the airwaves in 2011.

Of course, as mentioned, The Witcher is already no stranger to successful adaptations, either. The first video game in the franchise, which follows Geralt of Rivia from the novels saga, was released in 2007 to a positive critical reception. The action RPG series has since spawned two full sequels; the latest of which, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015), won over 250 “game of the year” accolades and sold over 10 million copies worldwide.

In a press release issued last year to announce the commissioning of the series, Netflix’s vice president of international series, Erik Barmack, said: “Andrzej Sapkowski has created a rich and memorable world, at once magical and familiar. We couldn’t be more excited about bringing The Witcher saga to Netflix members around the world.”

In the same release, Sapkowski promised that the series would stay “true to the source material and the themes” he had spent over 30 years writing.

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