Free Willy (franchise)

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Free Willy
Directed bySimon Wincer (Free Willy)
Dwight H. Little (The Adventure Home)
Sam Pillsbury (The Rescue)
Will Geiger (Escape from Pirate's Cove)
Produced byLauren Shuler Donner (12)
Written byKeith A. Walker (1)
Corey Blechman (1-2)
Karen Janszen (2)
John Mattson (2-3)
Will Geiger (4)
Music byBasil Poledouris
Cliff Eidelman
Enis Rotthoff
Production
company
Distributed byWarner Bros. (1993-1997)
Warner Premiere (2010)
Release date
1993 (Free Willy)
1995 (Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home)
1997 (Free Willy 3: The Rescue)
2010 (Free Willy: Escape From Pirate's Cove)
Running time
over 6.5 hours total (as of 2010)
CountryUnited States
South Africa
LanguageEnglish
Box office$153,698,625 (1)
[1]

Free Willy is a film franchise from Warner Bros. The first installment, Free Willy, was released on July 16, 1993, the second, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, was released on July 19, 1995, and the third film, Free Willy 3: The Rescue, was released on August 8, 1997; these first three films were produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and distributed by Warner Bros. The fourth installment, Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove (released March 2010), was directed by Will Geiger and distributed by Warner Premiere.

Alongside the films, an animated series also entitled Free Willy debuted in 1994.

Films[edit]

Free Willy (1993)[edit]

Free Willy is a 1993 American family drama film released by Warner Bros under its Family Entertainment label. The film stars Jason James Richter as a delinquent boy who becomes attached to a captive killer whale, the film's eponymous "Willy." Directed by Simon Wincer, it was shot mainly in Mexico City and Portland, Oregon.

Michael Jackson produced and performed "Will You Be There", the theme for the film, which can be heard during the film's credits. The song won the MTV Movie Award for "Best Song in a Movie" in 1994 and was also included in the album All Time Greatest Movie Songs, released by Sony in 1999.

Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home (1995)[edit]

Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home is a 1995 family film, directed Dwight H. Little, and released by Warner Bros under its Family Entertainment banner. It is a sequel to the 1993 film, also starring Jason James Richter and August Schellenberg.

The film has protagonist Jesse (Jason James Richter) reunite with Willy three years after the whale's jump to freedom, as the teenager tries to rescue killer whales from an oil spill.

Free Willy 3: The Rescue was subsequently released in 1997, making a trilogy. Keiko does not actually appear in this film, unlike the original movie. Willy is played by a robotic double, while the Free Willy Keiko Foundation devised a plan to bring him to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, where he would be rehabilitated for poor health. Michael Jackson returned to perform the film's songs contributing the theme song "Childhood", which can be heard during the film's credits.

Free Willy 3: The Rescue (1997)[edit]

Free Willy 3: The Rescue is a 1997 family film directed by Sam Pillsbury, and starring Jason James Richter and August Schellenberg. Released by Warner Bros under its Family Entertainment banner, the film is the second sequel to the 1993 Free Willy. The film is also the last with Keiko before he died of pneumonia in 2003.

The film features a teenaged Jesse (Richter) and old friend Randolph trying to foil an illegal whaler threatening Willy and his pregnant mate.

Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove (2010)[edit]

Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove, the fourth film in the series and a remake of the original, was directed by Will Geiger. The first feature from the Free Willy film franchise for 13 years, this film stars Bindi Irwin as Kirra, who discovers a baby killer whale stranded in the lagoon near her grandfather's rundown seaside amusement park. She embarks on a quest to lead Willy back to his pod.

Television series[edit]

Free Willy (1994)[edit]

Cast and crew[edit]

Characters Original films Animated series Remake film
Free Willy Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home Free Willy 3: The Rescue Free Willy Free Willy:
Escape from Pirate's Cove
1993 1995 1997 1994 2010
Jesse Greenwood Jason James Richter Zachary Bennett
Willy Keiko Animatronic Orca Paul Haddad CGI Orca
Keiko
(uncredited)
Randolph Johnson August Schellenberg Michael Fletcher
Glen Greenwood Michael Madsen Ron Len
Annie Greenwood Jayne Atkinson Sheila McCarthy
Dwight Mercer Mykelti Williamson
Rae Lindey Lori Petty
Dial Michael Ironside
Wade Richard Riehle
Elvis Greenwood Francis Capra
John Milner Jon Tenney
Nadine Mary Kate Schellhardt
Dr. Kate Haley Elizabeth Peña
Drew Halbert Annie Corley
Max Wesley Vincent Berry
John Wesley Patrick Kilpatrick
Mary Wesley Tasha Simms
Rockland Stone / The Machine Gary Krawford
Kirra Cooper Bindi Irwin
Gus Grisby Beau Bridges
Rolf Woods Stephen Jennings
Dr. Sam Cooper Kevin Otto
Sifiso Siyabuela Ramba

Crew[edit]

Role Films
Free Willy Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home Free Willy 3: The Rescue Free Willy:
Escape from Pirate's Cove
1993 1995 1997 2010
Director Simon Wincer Dwight H. Little
Allen Babiarz
Sam Pillsbury Will Geiger
Producers Lauren Shuler Donner
Jennie Lew Tugend
Jennie Lew Tugend David Wicht
John Stainton
Laura Lodin
Writers Keith A. Walker
Corey Blechman
John Mattson
Corey Blechman
Karen Janszen
John Mattson Will Geiger
Cindy McCreery
Composer Basil Poledouris Cliff Eidelman Enis Rotthoff
Cinematography Robbie Greenberg László Kovács Tobias A. Schliessler Robert Malpage

Reception[edit]

Public and critical response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Free Willy 57% (23 reviews)[2] 79 (14 reviews)[3]
Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home 36% (14 reviews)[4] -
Free Willy 3: The Rescue 44% (16 reviews)[5] -
Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove 33% (3 reviews)[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Free Willy". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 4, 2010.
  2. ^ "Free Willy". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 9, 2014.
  3. ^ "Free Willy". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved March 9, 2014.
  4. ^ "Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 9, 2014.
  5. ^ "Free Willy 3: The Rescue". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 9, 2014.
  6. ^ "Free Willy 4: Escape From Pirate's Cove".

External links[edit]