The Witcher producer blames its falling viewership and simplified plot on Americans


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A hot potato: Like the famous games, Netflix's The Witcher series is based on Andrzej Sapkowski's novels. But not following the books closely has been a point of contention for many people, including the now-former Geralt of Rivia actor Henry Cavill. According to the show's executive producer, Tomek Baginski, there are reasons for these simplifications: Americans, younger viewers, and social media.

Cavill announced in October last year that he would be leaving The Witcher despite being universally praised for his portrayal of Geralt. While it appeared that his decision to leave was due to his return as Superman, which never came to anything beyond the cameo in Black Adam, there were reports that he wasn't happy with the show straying too far from the books. There were also claims that some of the writers on the show "actively disliked" Sapkowski's novels.

In an interview with Polish site Wyborcza (translated by Witcher fan site Redanian Intelligence), Baginski said simplifying plot points is often necessary when "a series is made for a huge mass of viewers, with different experiences, from different parts of the world, and a large part of them are Americans."

There are times when making plot changes is the result of something that can't be helped, like an actor getting sick, but Baginski said he had encountered a similar "perceptual block" with American audiences many years ago when trying to make Hardkor 44, an unmade version of the Warsaw Uprising.

"[I] tried to explain: there was an uprising against Germany, but the Russians were across the river, and on the German side there were also soldiers from Hungary or Ukraine," Baginski told Wyborcza. "For Americans, it was completely incomprehensible, too complicated, because they grew up in a different historical context, where everything was arranged: America is always good, the rest are the bad guys. And there are no complications."

Baginski did say that simplifying plots was painful for both the writers and himself, but "the higher level of nuance and complexity will have a smaller range, it won't reach people. Sometimes it may go too far, but we have to make these decisions and accept them."

This isn't the first time Baginski has singled out a large demographic. Kotaku highlights an interview he gave with Polish YouTube channel Imponderabilia, in which the producer blamed season two of The Witcher's poor viewership on young people with low attention spans that grew up on TikTok and YouTube. "When it comes to shows, the younger the public is, the logic of the plot is less significant," he said, noting that young people gravitate more toward "just emotions."

"Dear children, what you do to yourself makes you less resilient for longer content, for long and complicated chains of cause and effect," Baginski added, really pushing his point home.

It appears that Baginski shares similar feelings to Ridley Scott. In 2021, the Blade Runner/Alien/Gladiator director blamed poor box office takings for The Last Duel on apathetic millennials and "their f**kin cellphones."

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Didn't Cavill leave, in part, to do a Warhammer 40k series?
Unfortunately he left The Witcher due to 2 other things:

1) The direction the show was going, because it was deviating too much from the books and games which Henry is an insanely large fan of and
2) He was supposed to come back to the DCU as Superman.... until ***** James Gunn and whoever the other guy is that were made heads of the DCU studios and then promptly gutted all the current cast of their movies including Cavill. So he was basically offered the role, then right after he annouced he was coming back was immediately told "hah, nevermind we're not having you come back as Superman."

He worked on getting the WH40K show going after all that other crap went down.
I honestly never give too much credit to the stories of Cavill proclaiming himself as the keeper of Sapkowski's lore (Simply because it is much more likely that both Cavill and Netflix or either party leans on that part to what was in all likelihood just a failed salary negotiation: Cavill thought he deserved a bigger cut, Netflix disagreed)

However this story does absolutely reeks of the worst kind of studio interference: Yes young American audiences are probably not going to follow Sapkowski's writing but on a service like Netflix you would think they would at least be more open to not just go for exactly what all but killed network broadcasting to begin with which was always relying on focus groups and the widest possible audience instead of doing the hard work of building an audience that might start niche but can grow based on innovative and fresh ideas.

Because I'm not sure where this 'Plot might be too convoluted for audiences to follow' comes from has nobody at Netflix looked at the success of say, the wire? You're telling me you'd pass on that show today because it's too many story lines, too complicated to follow, etc? It's not just patronizing and stupid but it's never going to make what should already be a niche show like Witcher into a success: I'm not just talking about the very specific audience that is either Polish or liked the games enough to go back and read 8 novels on it but in general, people who like fantasy stuff often will eat up convoluted plot lines and developments no problem.

Sure is not going to give you get you the 18-25 demographic maybe or whatever but do you have to build every show around reaching every possible audience? You have enough other shows to get both audiences to watch different shows on the same service that should be the entire point and why people flocked services like Netflix to begin with.

Those executives just need to be replaced otherwise they'll keep patronizing their audiences and hunting them for price increases and further crackdowns on sharing once they keep failing.
I thought the series was interesting, but felt largely rushed in the third season due to large gaps that didn't explain things well. I also wasn't terribly interested in going through the third season because of Henry no longer going to be part of the show and I kind of lost interest in it. Liam Hemsworth may play the part well when they make season 4, but I'm not interested in watching it anymore.

To me, when major characters are changed out (due to whatever reason - aside from if the actor died in real life) I lose interest in the show/movie. Like when Edward Norton was removed from playing the Hulk or when Terrance Howard was replaced as James Rhodes in Iron Man. I don't care for the actors that replaced them, they feel out of place because they aren't the ones that were part of the original cast.....maybe it's just me.

Lastly, when it takes 2 years between seasons, it can be hard to remember what even transpired in the season(s) before. Season 1 was out in 2019, season 2 was in 2021 and now season 3 was 2023 - the recaps only help fill in some of the blanks, but short of rewatching everything I forget who some characters are, what they did and how they became integrated into the current storyline in the latest season.

I miss the days of TV series having 18-24 shows and how you were only about 6 months away from the next season. Shorter gap in time and longer series allowed for a handful of things to happen:
1) better character development
2) more time to develop the plotlines
3) shorter gap in time between series means you're less likely to forget plotlines and characters
4) easier to get personally invested in the series/characters

All these series coming out on streaming platforms these days, you maybe get 8-10 episodes. Then you have multiple years between seasons, plus most series dump all episodes (at least on Netflix) all at once so you simply binge watch them for a day and you're done. Sure, immediately you may want to see more, but after waiting nearly 2 years for the next season you tend to completely forget about it and don't really care if you see more in the series or not.
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No Netflix appeals to Woke leftists only and assume all people on other spectrum (center and right) will fall in line. Their writers spend so much time on appeasement that when it comes to writing actual script, they are mentally exhausted.

We're hiding under your bed, and in the trees, ready to strike you with decency and compassion when you least expect it!
Somehow children with cellphones had tens of hours available to enjoy the world of Witcher 3, full of a story and content.
What Witcher series did was to remove all fun and interesting, and creating an incoherent, generic series, with certain woke agenda to follow, massacring great characters and made them just out of context, and simply hoping a few labels will allow them to ride on game - and books - popularity.
We don't want this ****. We don't watch this ****. We dont want new captain marvell, we dont want new(if they can be called 'new') star wars movies, nor any other crap big publishers think we want, or rather, big producers trying to impose on us to change what we are and what content we consume.
I think the only good (fiction) movies I seen last years were Dune and Good Omen 2. Rest was... meh. And that's very concerning, especially seeing like they blame people for their own incompetence...
I'm totally agree with Baginski
I am sure he is right that American audiences need things simplified. Which is why great shows like Dark do not get a mainstream audience in the States. Baginski's war story sound like it would have been a compelling show or movie I would watch.
No Netflix appeals to Woke leftists only and assume all people on other spectrum (center and right) will fall in line. Their writers spend so much time on appeasement that when it comes to writing actual script, they are mentally exhausted.
I stopped reading your comment after I saw "woke leftist". Both of those words have become code for anything that the brain dead ultra-MAGA crowd doesn't like. We get it, you only want movies and shows with an all white cast and male lead.
So the excuse is that they had to dumb down the story for stupid people, so smart people won't enjoy it. Yet ratings are still down, so stupid people didn't like it either. If they are unable to create a show that even *****s would like, they were never going to be able to create a show for smarter people. This amounts to a kid losing some game they're playing against a friend, and saying they weren't really trying.
Having just finished S3 episodes 7 and 8. They were trash. In 7 Ciri has a fever dream in a desert that has no impact on anyone's story. In 8 a bunch of story setup stuff happens for S4 that no one will ever see or remember. It was pathetic.
They should really have 2 versions for the picky American viewers:.

One version with easy, glitzy with small catchy words for the "woke-is- bad - DeSantis told me so - although he and other rednecks can't describe what Woke means" crowd.

And one for the rest who have a full, developed brain, capable of critical thinking.

Easy peasy.

And besides, Cavill is getting ready for his new role as Bond. James Bond.
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