The Witcher Season 2 is still a long ways away, but Netflix is taking an unprecedented approach to expanding the show's fantasy universe. The company recently announced plans for an anime film that will coexist with the ongoing live-action series starring Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia.
The Witcher blog Redanian Intelligence initially noted a WGA crediting the show's staff writer Beau DeMayowith's upcoming work on a project called The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, and Netflix confirmed shortly thereafter via the NX Twitter account that an anime film of that same name was officially in development.
How exactly will the "anime film" complement the show? Will it include the same characters from the show and the same cast? When will it be available to stream? Are there any books or stories from author Andrzej Sapkowski that it might borrow from? And most importantly, what's the release date for The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf?
Here's all of that and more. (And don't worry, The Witcher Season 2 is coming too.)
Who's making The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf?
The announcement tweet confirms that the live-action series creator and showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich is involved with the project, along with writer Beau DeMayo, who penned the first season's third episode, “Betrayer Moon.” (That's the episode in which Geralt confronts the Striga and Yennefer undergoes her transformation.) The tweet also mentions Korean animation house Studio Mir, known for Netflix's Voltron: Legendary Defender and The Legend of Korra.
This being an offshoot of The Witcher, most people assumed that Henry Cavill might voice Geralt of Rivia in the anime movie, especially because "Nightmare of the Wolf" subtitle seemed like a reference Geralt's moniker is "The White Wolf." However, he's merely one of many Witchers trained within the School of the Wolf faction of Witchers, so there was always the possibility it referred to another Witcher.
A synopsis for the film sneakily added to the official Netflix listing for the movie circa January 29 confirmed that the movie is about Geralt's much older mentor Vesemir. Actor Theo James voiced a single line of Vesemir dialogue in the Season 1 finale of The Witcher, so it seems possible he might return as the star of the movie.
What is The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf about?
The initial teaser promises the film "will take us back to a new threat facing the Continent." Not only will it take us back to the continent, but it will also take us back in time. For it to be a "new threat" means that it won't be ghouls, strigas, Nilfgaard, dragons, djinns, hedgehog people, or strigas.
The official description for the movie, which has since been seemingly removed from the Netflix listing, confirms that Nightmare of the Wolf will be a Vesemir origin story, following the elder Witcher who mentored and trained Geralt in his youth. "Long before mentoring Geralt, Vesemir begins his own journey as a witcher after the mysterious Deglan claims him through the Law of Surprise," the description reads.
We don't know how old Vesemir is within the continuity of the Netflix series, but in the timeline of the books and/or video games, Vesemir was actively performing his Witcher duties by the year 1112. That's 56 years before Geralt is born and 141 years before Ciri is born. If Vesemir truly was a Child of Surprise just like theory, then he was probably claimed by this mysterious Deglan before he was even born — but not necessarily.
It's unclear exactly at what age Witchers complete their training and go on active duty. It's also unclear how good people on the Continent were with historical records. We have no real way of knowing exactly when this story takes place, but the first Witchers were supposedly created in the 950s by renegade mages. What if Vesemir was one of the first? If that's the case, then Nightmare of the Wolf could be an origin story for Vesemir and all of the Witchers.
When is The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf's release date?
So far there is no confirmed release date for the movie, but Redanian Intelligence's original report speculates that Henry Cavill's absence from most Season 1 promotional events means that he may have been recording his lines for the animated film. Voice actress Harriet Kershaw also lists The Witcher on her website under the CV section under the year 2020 as "various roles," which is a strong indication that she only recorded vocal work and did not perform any live-action roles.
All of this indicates that The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf will probably be released on Netflix before Season 2.
Showrunner Lauren S. Hissrich said in a Reddit AMA that Season 2 was on track for a release date sometime in 2021. Redanian Intelligence also reported that executive producer Tomek Baginski said in an interview, "We are planning a few more interesting surprises between seasons but I will not say exactly what will happen." One of those "interesting surprises" is, apparently, this anime movie. Baginski's comment also implies it might release "between seasons," offering further support of a 2020 release date.