willow tv series Disney+

We’ve heard rumblings of a Willow TV series, and now it’s official. Jon M. Chu, director of Crazy Rich Asians and In the Heights, is set to direct a Willow TV series for Disney+, with Willow star Warwick Davis returning as Willow Ufgood. Ron Howard, who directed the film, is also on board as executive producer. Released in 1988, the fantasy epic Willow came from a story by George Lucas, and while it was not the huge blockbuster Lucasfilm was hoping for, it turned a profit – and developed a strong following thanks to home video.

Disney+ will return to the magical world of Willow with its new TV series, which marks Lucasfilm’s first venture into non-Star Wars storytelling since 2015. The series takes place years after the events of the original Willow film, and “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.”

“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,” said Warwick Davis. “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.”

In the movie, Willow was a farmer who went on a dangerous journey to protect a baby from an evil queen. In addition to Davis, the cast included Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Jean Marsh, and Billy Barty. Critics were not enchanted with what director Ron Howard had to offer, but the movie made enough money to not be considered a total flop – although Howard and Lucasfilm were definitely hoping for bigger returns. And while Willow didn’t do boffo box office, it built up a steady following via home video releases, to the point where Disney+ now feels confident moving forward with a TV series.

Jon M. Chu will direct the pilot and serve as executive producer alongside Jonathan Kasdan and Wendy Mericle. Kasdan wrote the pilot. “Growing up in the ’80s, Willow has had a profound effect on me,” said 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. 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.”

Ron Howard added: “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.”

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said: “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+.”

Production on the series will begin next year in Wales, where much of the original film was shot.

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