Exclusive: Sébastien Francoeur, one of the VFX producers on The Witcher: Blood Origin, comments on the unfortunate reception to the ambitious series.
The Witcher: Blood Origin was an incredibly ambitious show with an unfortunate response, according to VFX producer Sébastien Francoeur. Released in 2022, the prequel series to The Witcher looked set to please fans of fantasy stories and The Witcher alike, as it featured characters and lineage from the original show while adding exciting new cast members like Michelle Yeoh. Unfortunately, the show’s low Rotten Tomatoes scores (31% critical, 13% audience) point to a different end result.
Some of the criticism of The Witcher: Blood Origin centered around a story that felt rushed, which may make sense given that the series was originally conceived as six episodes but ended up being four. Other detractors of the series have cited that it seems only loosely connected to the work of The Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski – though that seems more to be an issue of expectations, as The Witcher: Blood Origin was always its own story. VFX producers Sébastien Francoeur and Graeme Marshall hinted at their own feelings on the subject in an interview with Screen Rant:
Sébastien Francoeur: Blood Origin compared to The Witcher is a bigger ambition. That was one of the sad things about it is to see all the haters on the Internet, that’s not fun.
Graeme Marshall: Nothing about the visual effects, though. [Chuckles]
What The Witcher Needs To Do To Win Back Fans After Blood Origin
The creation of any film or television show is the result of a Herculean effort on behalf of hundreds of people, including the directors, writers, actors, and VFX producers like Graeme Marshall and Sébastien Francoeur; The Witcher: Blood Origin is no exception. While those efforts deserve recognition and respect, there has certainly been a vocal response by fans and critics alike dissatisfied with the way The Witcher: Blood Origin presented and expanded the lore of The Witcher.
A vocal segment of the viewership has clamored for future entries in the series to stay closer to the work of Andrzej Sapkowski, who seems notably ambivalent about the series. Perhaps future The Witcher spinoffs could benefit from taking some cues from HBO’s The Last of Us; while that series certainly benefited from the incredibly cinematic nature of its source material, showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have done an incredible job of picking and choosing when to stray from and stay faithful to the original work. The backlash surrounding The Witcher: Blood Origin also steps onto the fringes of the debate of how much book and game adapters need to be beholden to hardcore franchise fans.
There are valid points on both sides; because of the unique ways in which games and books allow the audience to experience the story, they offer experiences that cannot be perfectly replicated on-screen. Filmmakers of video game and book adaptations should also have the ability to express themselves and expand on the source materials if there are certain opportunities granted by the film or television format. Of course, there have been times when a studio catering to the desires of fans has saved a project, with the redesign of Sonic for the 2020 Sonic the Hedgehog film serving as a prime example. It is an incredibly difficult position, and it remains to be seen how The Witcher screen franchise will handle the future after The Witcher: Blood Origin.
All episodes of The Witcher: Blood Origin are streaming on Netflix.
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