Free Willy (film series)

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Free Willy film series
Directed by Simon Wincer (first film)
Dwight H. Little (second film)
Sam Pillsbury (third film)
Will Geiger (fourth film)
Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner
Written by Keith A. Walker (1)
Corey Blechman (1-2)
Karen Janszen (2)
John Mattson (2-3)
Will Geiger (4)
Music by Basil Poledouris
Cliff Eidelman
Enis Rotthoff
Production
company
Distributed by Warner 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)
Country United States
South Africa
Language English
Box office $153,698,625 (1)
[1]

Free Willy is a series of family films 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. It was a reboot of the original series and is in no way connected to the previous films.

Films[edit]

Free Willy[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.

Followed by three sequels Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, Free Willy 3: The Rescue, and Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove, and a short-lived animated television series, Free Willy was a financial success, eventually making a star of its protagonist, Keiko. The film's famous climax has been spoofed several times in popular culture.

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. Jackson also performed songs for the film's first sequel.

The Adventure Home[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.

The Rescue[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.

Escape From Pirate's Cove[edit]

Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove, the final film of 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.

Cast and characters[edit]

Characters Films Animated series
Free Willy
(1993)
The Adventure Home
(1995)
The Rescue
(1997)
Escape from Pirates Cove
(2010)
Free Willy
(1994)
Jesse Greenwood Jason James Richter Zachary Bennett
Willy Keiko Animatronic Orca
Keiko
CGI Orca Paul Haddad
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
Kirra Cooper Bindi Irwin
Gus Grisby Beau Bridges
Rolf Woods Stephen Jennings
Dr. Sam Cooper Kevin Otto
Sifiso Siyabuela Ramba

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] -
Average ratings 43% 19.75%

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]