1988's cult-classic fantasy film Willow is set to make a return – not to the bigscreen, nor as a feature-length sequel, but as a TV series streaming exclusively on Disney Plus.
The pilot is set to be directed by Crazy Rich Asians' John M. Chu, with Warwick Davis set to return in the title role of Willow Ufgood and original director Ron Howard signed on as executive producer. It will become LucasFilm's second TV spin-off following the success of The Mandalorian, and the first non-Star Wars related project for the company in five years.
“Growing up in the ’80s, ‘Willow’ has had a profound effect on me,” says Chu.
“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."
Where next for Willow?
According to Ron Howard, the show won't be "a nostalgic throw-back", but instead "a creative lean-forward," perhaps hinting at audiences' expectations of fantasy TV making in a post Game of Thrones and The Witcher world.
But Willow was always intended as a more kid-friendly adventure than those modern swords-and-shields hits. It followed wannabe sorcerer Willow (Warwick Davis) who found himself the unlikely hero in a quest to defend baby princess Elora Danan, with a gang of warriors and magical creatures in tow that included Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley.
With Disney Plus now the Mouse House's primary focus – or at least until the cinema industry recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic's impact – it'll be interesting to see where LucasFilm goes next now it's turning its attentions away from Star Wars. Labyrinth is set to get a sequel from Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson, while a long-gestating Indiana Jones sequel is also still floating around. Could they be the next big Disney Plus announcements to follow Willow?