While everyone is still recovering from the 7th season of Game of Thrones, its amazing developments and a revelation that could potentially change everything in the race to the Iron Throne, new TV shows are in the works that could potentially challenge the dominance of everyone’s favorite fantasy series.
The Game of Thrones’ Financial Empire
The success of the TV adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s saga exceeded expectations even for its producers. As soon as the first season wrapped up, everyone knew that the show was going to be a hit like no other. Millions of people across the globe got hooked on the amazingly well-produced show that has an unprecedented recipe for success: seven kingdoms and countless houses that wage all sorts of wars and battles, a great ensemble cast with amazing character development (especially for people like Sansa and Jaime, who start out as most-hated and end up as fan favorites), intrigue and treason, dragons, and an army of the undead.
Game of Thrones was a big gamble but it sure paid off: in season 6, each episode cost about $10 million to do right. Yet the investment yielded high returns: the season 7 premier gathered more than 30 million viewers in the US and the series has become a regular at the Emmy awards, having won the Emmy for Best Drama twice, in 2015 and in 2016. In total, the show has taken home 38 Emmy awards. And besides fame, it has also brought money to its production network HBO: apparently, the show makes a little over $1 billion annually – which includes subscriptions, DVDs and an aftermarket of a vast franchise spanning all kinds of online products. The hit TV show has produced official merchandise that ranges from hoodies and latte mugs to oven mitts and sculptures and inspired everything from online casino slot game with a Westeros theme to Game of Thrones menus served in high-class restaurants. It seems that the fans’ desire for all things GoT is truly insatiable.
The Witcher: A Supernatural Monster Hunter Saga from Poland
With these figures in mind, it is no wonder that other networks out there are keen to tap into the current frenzy about fantasy sagas. And who better at the job than the current producer of one-hit original series after the other: Netflix. The network has confirmed that it has been developing a new English-language TV show based on the popular fantasy book series The Witcher by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, who has spent 30 years working on the novels. The series consists of a 5-novel saga, two collections of short stories, and a couple more books, and has gained a cult following in Central and Eastern European countries like the author’s native Poland, as well as in Russia. They have also inspired an immensely popular video game series.
The saga revolves around Witchers, hunters who engage in body modification and training to develop supernatural abilities while young and use their powers to fight monsters. Sapkowski, who has described the main undercurrent of his fantasy books as a story about the challenges of today and the heroes and monsters we all hide inside, will be on board as a creative consultant. The series will no doubt follow the main protagonist, Geralt of Rivia, and fans have already begun suggesting names for the role, including GoT’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. The show seems to have a lot of potential and, since GoT won’t be returning until well into 2019, we might well see it take over in its absence. Yet Netflix needs to tread cautiously: the previous TV adaptation, a 2002 Polish series under the name The Hexer, did not go so well.
Amazon’s Gamble with the Lord of the Rings Franchise
The other major contender, Amazon, is trying to play it safe by turning to a saga more famous than GoT itself: the Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s masterpiece needs no introduction and its extraordinary popularity across the globe makes it an easy pick if you are looking for medieval fantasy. Amazon reportedly paid $250 million to acquire the global TV rights for a multiple season series. And then has to pour in a lot for production costs if it wants to rise up to GoT production level: this type of show could cost around $100 to $150 million for a single season – but let’s not forget that the original LOTR trilogy made more than $2.9 billion globally.
However, reactions to the news were mixed – especially as Amazon announced that the series would focus on the events after the Hobbit and before the Fellowship of the Ring – that is, events that are not really featured in the Tolkien books. Fans nag that the saga has been milked after the success of the original LOTR films – and it is true that the Hobbit films felt a bit underwhelming compared to the first trilogy. The beloved franchise could be an even bigger gamble than The Witcher, as it will not only compare to GoT but also to the intense and majestic feel of the Peter Jackson movies. If Amazon aims to dethrone GoT, they have to put a lot of effort into the golden opportunity they have at their hands – or they will be risking the wrath of Tolkien’s devoted following.
If there is one thing that these contenders should keep in mind most of all, then it is this: Game of Thrones also set the bar very high in terms of production and attention to detail. The audience has been spoiled and they will be expecting a lot, especially when it comes to adaptations of lore with such dedicated fandoms.