In a time before the inception of Star Wars with A New Hope in 1977, George Lucas approached director Ron Howard with a kernel of an idea. First conceived in ’72, the embryonic project was pitched as a sprawling fantasy epic known as Willow.
At the time, Lucas had hoped that the genre piece would go on to become something of a box office juggernaut, eclipsing the likes of ET: The Extra Terrestrial, though the reality was much less spectacular. A difficult opening weekend clipped the wings of Willow before it could get going in earnest, while Lucas made his own fortune through Star Wars and later Indiana Jones.
How and ever, the legacy of Willow continues thanks to the film finding a strong, impassioned audience on home video, which has led Howard to circle back and acknowledge the possibility of a sequel. While hosting a Reddit AMA in preparation for the soon-to-be-released In The Heart of the Sea, the filmmaker teased that fans should “never say never” when it comes to Willow 2.
Right now, the Lucasfilm team led by Kathleen Kennedy, who is an old dear friend, is entirely myopically focused on the Star Wars universe as you can imagine. So I think the immediate possibility of another Willow movie is probably not on the front burner. But Warwick Davis is such a cool guy, and he’s continued to evolve as a talent … man, he’s Willow! And a grown-up Willow could be kind of cool, so, I’d say never say never.
Shortly thereafter, Howard went on to talk frankly about his working relationship with George Lucas, and how the director originally approached him with the nugget of an idea for a fantasy feature – a fantasy feature that he wasn’t too keen on at first.
You know there are things about the movie Willow, as much affection as I have for it and as much affection as fans have for it that, you know, I would love to have a second chance with. George Lucas was so trusting; I was still fairly green, I always say it was a little like me doing my doctoral thesis working with George Lucas on that movie Willow. And I think today I could make it even more dynamic, I could make it cooler, I could make the funny stuff funnier, but all that said, you know Willow was a great experience and I’m really glad it sort of lives in peoples memory. Or younger people see it today and still find something to really like about it.
It’s fair to say that Willow, which originally starred Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer, was a product of its time, but could the dormant IP make a triumphant return?