Though The Witcher: Blood Origin was intended to capitalize on the success of its parent series, its failure among both critics and audiences has, instead, placed the franchise as a whole behind its two biggest rivals, Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and HBO’s House of the Dragon. Critics have savaged the new series, and it currently sits in the mid-30s range on Rotten Tomatoes. It has also failed to capture the attention of the general public, with a truly dismal 12% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Blood Origin focuses on the event known as the Conjunction of the Spheres and the creation of the monster-hunting Witchers. The events and characters in this prequel will have long-reaching effects on its parent show, driving much of the underlying plot. Given the success of The Witcher itself, Blood Origin wasn’t expected to go as wrong as seems to be the case.
Blood Origin Puts The Witcher Behind LOTR & Game Of Thrones
In just the two weeks since its release, Blood Origin has struggled not just to match the popularity of its parent series but also to other prequel series. In particular, it hasn’t enjoyed the same level of success with either viewers or critics as the two other high-profile prequel fantasy series currently airing: House of the Dragon and The Rings of Power. While both of those series had their fair share of detractors, they’ve still become a key part of the cultural conversation in a way that Blood Origin simply hasn’t.
Of course, The Witcher as a whole hasn’t achieved quite the level of cultural prestige associated with, say, Game of Thrones. This is partly because it’s simply a different kind of story, with far more pulp and a monster-of-the-week format compared to an extended reflection on the nature of political power. Though Blood Origin succeeds in revealing the first Witcher, it leans even more into the generic fantasy elements, which keeps it from attaining the same sort of philosophical weight as either Thrones or The Rings of Power.
Blood Origin Came At The Worst Possible Time For The Witcher
This is a particularly precarious time for The Witcher, especially after the Blood Origin prequel. It was recently announced that Henry Cavill would be leaving the series after season 3, with the role of Geralt being taken over by Liam Hemsworth. This might not be a death sentence for the series, since other shows have endured significant cast changes. Both House of the Dragon and The Rings of Power saw major recasting, for example. However, it’s worth noting that the latter didn’t lose one of its central stars.
The Witcher remains one of the hottest properties at Netflix. While there is still a lot of life left in the franchise–and the prequel fixes problems like the Wild Hunt before season 3–Blood Origin has already shown the perils of releasing a prequel that lacks the kind of grounding presence provided by a character like Geralt. If the failure of The Witcher: Blood Origin shows anything, it’s that it’s unwise to rely too much on a brand name. If Netflix hopes to compete with HBO and Prime Video, it has a lot of work to do with The Witcher.