Willow Disney+ TV Series Teased by Ron Howard

Ron Howard is teasing a Willow television series for Disney+, whose greenlight he awaits as development commences.

Willow, director Ron Howard’s highly-touted 1988 fantasy flick, was supposed to be the next E.T.; a title to which it laid claim bearing a story from George Lucas, an at-the-time substantial $35 million budget and magical themes that were tailor-made for family consumption at theaters. However, while the film fell short of phone-home-level box office grosses, it was widely acclaimed, and has since maintained a fanbase, one that might soon be mollified with a Disney+ TV revival.

A sequel television series for Willow is in development, as Howard reveals to Collider in a Sundance Film Festival sit-down interview. In another example of second-generation scribes taking classic franchise reins, Jonathan Kasdan, son of legendary Star Wars scribe Lawrence Kasdan, is writing the Willow series, set as showrunner. As Howard, who is not yet attached to direct, states:

“We are developing Willow for Disney Plus,” adding, “And I don’t know about directing or not, but Jon Kasdan is writing, he’s very passionate about it, great job. We don’t have a green light yet, but if it goes, I’ll certainly want to roll up my sleeves and be a part of that, because that would be great, to revisit that world.”

Kasdan comes into the project off script work for director Howard on 2018 spinoff film Solo: A Star Wars Story, having fielded films such as 2012’s The First Time, 2007’s In the Land of Women and a run on TV’s Dawson’s Creek. He’s also attached to the script for the long-mooted fifth Indiana Jones film, which was last penciled-in for July 9, 2021.

Further Reading: Disney+ Lineup: February 2020 New Arrivals

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Howard himself remains a passionate advocate for Willow, which he directed off a script by Bob Dolman based on George Lucas’s story concept. The film was a crucial plunge for the actor-turned-Oscar-winning-director, who’d just started to walk the genre edge with 1984 mermaid rom-com Splash and 1985 alien rescue caper Cocoon, having only fielded comedies, save for a campy 1981 TV movie called The Time Crystal. Indeed, he was attempting to get a Willow movie sequel off the ground as recently as 2018. Yet, given the shifting industry landscape, it became clear that television might be the better medium for such a revival.  

For now, though, Disney+ has yet to grant a greenlight to the Willow sequel series project. However, that fact hasn’t deterred Howard, who seems optimistic about its chances, gleefully pointing to the child-like enthusiasm of its scribe, Kasdan. Howard further explains that the format for the would-be series – be it episodic or as TV movies – would likely be determined though an agreement between the showrunner (Kasdan) and the studio (Disney). As Howard further explains:

“In this world of these event series, they really do look to the showrunners and the key creatives to tell them their vision. It’s one of the reasons why TV has gotten so good, is that they really are looking at the showrunners as authors of something that they’re deeply passionate about. And Jon is deeply passionate about Willow, which tickles me to no end.”

While Howard doesn’t have much to offer regarding the plot of the Willow sequel series, he did confirm without ambiguity that star Warwick Davis will reprise his role as the eponymous dwarven farmer/conjuror, Willow Ufgood, and that the series would follow the natural passage of time, taking place decades after the original film. Yet, it remains to be seen if co-stars Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley will reprise their respective roles as mercenary Madmartigan and warrior Sorsha, who fell in love with each other and ended up raising the film’s fateful infant, Elora, who would be well into her thirties by now.

We’ll keep you updated on the prospective Disney+ Willow sequel series as the news arrives!

Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.