After quite a bit of speculation and a lot of hints from original director Ron Howard, Disney has now confirmed that the Willow TV Show is officially happening. The series will serve as a direct sequel to the original George Lucas created classic that premiered way back in 1988. Ron Howard is confirmed to return as one of the producers, with Warwick Davis reprising his role as the title character. The series will debut exclusively on Disney+ streaming. Though a premiere date has not been announced at this time.
Willow was George Lucas' first attempt at a fantasy adventure following his success with the iconic Star Wars franchise. It provided his Return of the Jedi breakout star Warwick Davis with a starring role, and gave Ron Howard a chance to show his talents in the sci-fi genre. Now, the main team behind the original classic is back to give Willow an all-new story. Disney announced the news with an official press release today.
"The magical world of George Lucas' Willow, the epic fantasy adventure set in an age of swords, sorcery, myths and monsters, will be returning in a Disney+ series slated to begin production next year. Jon M. Chu (In The Heights, Crazy Rich Asians) is set to direct the pilot, and will serve as executive producer along with showrunners Jonathan Kasdan (Solo) and Wendy Mericle (Arrow). Jonathan Kasdan wrote the pilot."
Jon M. Chu, who is no stranger to the world of genre moviemaking and its rabid fanbase having directed G.I. Joe Retaliation and the Jem and the Holograms movie, had this to say about taking on the pilot for Willow, which will serve as a direct sequel to the original movie.
"Growing up in the '80s, Willow has had a profound effect on me. The story of the bravest heroes in the least likely places allowed me, an Asian-American kid growing up in a Chinese restaurant looking to go to Hollywood, to believe in the power of our own will, determination and of course, inner magic. So the fact that I get to work with my heroes from Kathleen Kennedy to Ron Howard is bigger than a dream come-true. It's a bucket-list moment for me. Jon Kasdan and Wendy Mericle have added such groundbreaking new characters and delightful surprises to this timeless story that I can't wait for the world to come along on this epic journey with us."
Chu directed the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical In the Heights, which was supposed to be released this year, but has been delayed until June 2021 in light of the current pandemic and the subsequent shuttering of movie theaters across the country. He will also direct and serve as executive producer for the pilot of ABC's Medical Drama Triage.
Ron Howard, director of the original Willow film, returns as executive producer on the series with Bob Dolman, writer of the original film, serving as consulting producer. Says Howard about returning for the Willow series.
"It's creatively exciting to not only revisit the world and characters first conceived by George Lucas, Bob Dolman and myself but to see it take flight in such fresh, fun and cinematic ways through the imagination of Jon Kasdan and Team Willow. This isn't a nostalgic throw-back, it's a creative lean-forward and it's a blast to be a part of it all."
The series, which is Lucasfilm's first venture into non-Star Wars storytelling since 2015, takes place years after the events of the original Willow film. It introduces all-new characters to the enchanted realm of fairy queens and two-headed Eborsisk monsters, and welcomes back its namesake hero, Willow Ufgood, performed once again by the unmatchable Warwick Davis. Says Warwick Davis about his return.
"So many fans have asked me over the years if Willow will make a return, and now I'm thrilled to tell them that he will indeed. Many have told me they grew up with Willow and that the film has influenced how they view heroism in our own world. If Willow Ufgood can represent the heroic potential in all of us, then he is a character I am extremely honored to reprise."
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy also chimed in on the prospect of bringing Willow back for its huge fanbase.
"This is an exciting new era for storytelling at Lucasfilm. Jon Chu's vision, coupled with the writing of Jon Kasdan and Wendy Mericle, is going to take Willow into new and exciting directions for the series. Reuniting Ron Howard and Warwick Davis in the world of Willow is something that they've both wanted to do for some time, and I couldn't be more proud of the incredible team we've put together to bring this series to Disney+."
Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, Jon M. Chu, Jonathan Kasdan, Wendy Mericle, Ron Howard and Imagine Television will serve as executive producers, with Roopesh Parekh and Hannah Friedman as co-executive producers. Additionally, Bob Dolman will serve as consulting producer with Julia Cooperman as producer. The production plans to return to the dramatic and enchanted landscapes of Wales, where much of the original film was shot.