Why 2022 will be the biggest year on-screen fantasy ever

When cinemas around the world began to reopen after those dark and closed days of Spring 2020, one of the first things that premiered in the UK was a Harry potter marathon. Meanwhile, in July, an almost 20-year-old film made it to the UK’s top five box office: the long version of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Sure, the new movies were slim to the pitch, but there was another conclusion to be drawn: People craved fantasy.

Over a year later, that hunger has been epically satisfied. The two behemoths we’ll be digging into streaming and TV in 2022 are both fantastic prequels: Amazon has its epic new The Lord of the Rings, while HBO returns to Westeros with its Game of thrones followed Dragon house.

And the money behind them would even extend to the Braavos Iron Bank. At the end of the original Game of thrones, HBO was spending $ 15 million per episode, and it’s unlikely to downsize. Amazon, meanwhile, bought the rights to the books from JRR Tolkien for $ 250 million in 2017, and has committed around $ 150 million for the first season of its’The Lord of the Rings’ Pin up. It will launch on September 2 and will be the most expensive television series ever made.

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Streaming giant Netflix has also joined the party. Since ‘science fiction and fantasy’ became its most popular category for its subscribers in 2018, almost a third of its new original content has been devoted to fantasy material. “Netflix uses sophisticated customer analytics to respond quickly to changes in subscriber tastes,” reports analytics firm Ampere Analysis, “so as the demand for sci-fi and fantasy grows, so does the amount of content. “

What is driving this demand? Fantasy takes you away from modern stresses, especially the complications of technology, into worlds that look a bit like our past but are not burdened by actual history. Where science fiction tends towards dark dystopias to be resisted, fantasy often involves idealized, usually bucolic realms facing existential threats.

“Fairy tales do not give the child the idea of ​​evil or ugliness,” noted writer and philosopher GK Chesterton at the turn of the twentieth century. ‘It’s already in the child, because it’s already in the world. Fairy tales do not give children their first idea of ​​the bogeyman. What fairy tales give to the child is his first clear idea of ​​the possible defeat of the bogeyman.

In short, fantasy offers the assurance of simple heroism and, more often than not, the luminous glow of magic.

The Lord of the Rings. Image: Amazon Prime

Since both Lord of Rings and Harry Potter launched movie franchises around the turn of the century (just months after 9/11), the fantasy has grown from geeky embarrassment and fodder to ’80s B-movies to mainstream audiences. Just look the success of Game of thrones and all the other fantastic big budget adaptations that got the nod in its wake, such as The witcher, Its dark materials and The wheel of time.

While things don’t seem as gloomy now as they were in mid-2020 (or, indeed, late 2001), pseudo-medieval worlds and magical realms still draw us in.

Which brings us back to The Lord of the Rings. Rather than reenacting the War of the Ring covered by Peter Jackson’s cinematic trilogy, Amazon’s new epic will delve into the Second Age of Middle-earth a few millennia earlier. There won’t be many familiar faces (although Holy maud Star Morfydd Clark will appear as Galadriel), and narrative details remain scarce beyond the possibility of dealing with the rise of Sauron.

But one can expect a reassuring aesthetic continuity, thanks to the involvement of Weta Workshop (who created the armor, weapons and prosthetics of the original films) and the fact that it was filmed mainly in New Zealand. .

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In Westeros, they don’t dive that far into the past – just a few hundred years. This is the era of the Targaryen Civil War, as detailed in author George RR Martin’s fictional story “Fire & Blood”. Dragon house boasts a quality cast which includes Paddy Considine, Olivia Cooke and Matt Smith. We are also promised a much higher number of dragons than the previous series, with the fire-breathing beasts enjoying their last years before extinction.

Obviously, Amazon and HBO have money to spend to breathe new life into these beloved properties, but television is a natural hotbed for fantastic adaptation, no matter what. The multi-season narrative offers the most coherent and the most interesting way to approach these dense and steeped texts of tradition.

This is the case with Netflix’s horror-fantasy The sandman, which succeeded where several cinematic attempts failed. Based on Neil Gaiman’s 75-issue comic book series, its protagonist is Morpheus (Tom Sturridge), one of the Endless, who rules the Realm of Dreams and has run-ins with a ruthless occultist (Charles Dance), various deities and historical figures, and even the Lord of Hell, Lucifer (Gwendolyn Christie). A sprawling metaphysical saga it should be huge.

The witcher
The witcher. Image: Netflix

And there is still plenty of room for other streaming fantasies. On Netflix in particular, where we will find The witcher prequel series Origin of blood (exploring the foundations of the Witcher order); inspired West African mythology Children of blood and bones; a new live-action adaptation of a beloved cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender; an animated take on the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game; and even a return to the world beyond the wardrobe with the launch of “new series and film projects based on the beloved of CS Lewis”The Chronicles of Narnia “‘, according to a Netflix ad.

Meanwhile, Disney + effectively mixes fantasy with ’80s nostalgia with a series based on Ron Howard’s sword and witchcraft duds. willow. Here is hoping that it will be Cobra Kai with wizards.

Speaking of wizards, the main big-screen fantasy offering of 2022 will be the third of the Harry potter spin-off-stroke-prequel series, Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore. Swapping Johnny Depp for Mads Mikkelsen as the Evil Egg Grindelwald, he will follow Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and young Dumbledore (Jude Law) as they attempt to thwart the Dark Magician’s plans on the eve of WWII. the Potter Cinema juggernaut, which has been rolling since 2001, shows no sign of slowing down.

Movie shows aren’t as full of fantastic offerings as the small screen, but there’s more magic in Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, where the falsification of the reality of the eponymous wizard (Benedict Cumberbatch) goes seriously wrong; and other demigods superhero antics featuring Thor: Love and Thunder, which will see Natalie Portman return as Jane Foster. Oddly enough, she will gain the powers of the God of Thunder.

Landing in December is James Cameron’s highly anticipated Avatar following. While this is in fact sci-fi, its weird and colorful alien menagerie has a strong fantasy vibe, and it’ll likely scratch the same itch of escape. But, if you’re looking for something more gritty and more down to earth, watch out for Robert ‘LighthouseEggers’ next offer: The man of the North, a Viking revenge thriller steeped in Norse superstition.

Whatever fancy flavor you are looking for, there will definitely be something for you in 2022. Everyone needs a little magic in their life. Especially these days.

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