Jon M. Chu directing, Warwick Davis and Ron Howard returning
Lucasfilm announced Tuesday that the magical world of George Lucas’ Willow, an epic 1988 fantasy-adventure film set in an age of swords, sorcery, myths and monsters, will be returning in a Disney+ series slated to begin production in 2021.
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.
“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. 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 will be released in June 2021. 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.
“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,” says Howard. “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 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,” says 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.”
“This is an exciting new era for storytelling at Lucasfilm,” says Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “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.