Will Willow be able to fulfill Disney’s dream?

There’s a lot to put on the shoulders of Willow, Disney+’s latest online release.

he presents as a “legacy” of Ron Howard’s 1988 film of the same name, borrowing a term from critic Matt Singer. Legacyquel is an increasingly popular type of sequel — one that often separates from the original by decades and is one that passes the torch from generation to generation. think about Creed arrive rock Good movie Divine Power Awakens to the original Star Wars. The appeal of this form is obvious, attracting older fans and hopefully their younger families too.

The Disney+ series takes over the Wednesday release slot vacated by the season finale of Andorgive it a place on the winter schedule comparable to Marvel or Star Wars offerings. The film was announced with the participation of filmmaker Jon M Chu, director of films such as Asian Super Rich Children and in height.

Willow seems like an odd choice for this type of treatment. The original film is an old-fashioned fantasy epic set in a magical medieval world. Farmer and sorcerer Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis) is tasked with protecting a baby named Elora Danan, heralded as the Princess of Tir Asleen. Elora is pursued by the evil Queen Bavmorda, and Willow must ally with Bavmorda’s daughter Sorsha (Joanne Whalley) and the rogue Madmortigan to keep the baby safe.

Although the film reportedly grossed over $110 million worldwide on a $35 million budget, it was not successful at the box office. Nor is it an important pet. Reviews have been mixed, at best. “Willow It’s a scary ambitious movie, but it’s neither scary nor magical,” writes Roger Ebert. His often-controversial partner Gene Siskel said the film was “too violent for young children and too childish for teenagers”. In another positive review in Los Angeles TimesSheila Benson admitted that the film “evaporated from memory with the airiness of a bubble bath”.

That said, the fact is Willow It managed to turn a profit that put it above many other epic fantasy films of the 1980s. It was a roll call enough to give any Hollywood executive a nightmare: Legend, Krull, Dragon Slayer, Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Highlander. The curse is said to extend to even more fanciful sci-fi bombs like Flash Gordon, Master of the Universe and by David Lynch sand dunes.

Of course, these films seem to be chasing the huge success of George Lucas. Star WarsIt’s really a high fantasy story about wizards and knights dressed in the trappings of science fiction. Willow stand out as part of this trend because of it, along with the infamous confusion Howard Duckone of Lucas’ first major projects after completing the original Star Wars trilogy of works. It seems that not even Lucas himself can regain the magic that Hollywood is after.

During the press for Willow, Lucas himself had to admit that “fantasy has failed spectacularly”. This wave of popular fantasy genre failures may explain why Hollywood shied away from the genre in the 1990s. It has become accepted wisdom for audiences not to be enamored with magic. The only magic that is accepted is the technical type and takes place behind the scenes.

Things will take a dramatic turn at the turn of the millennium. The winter of 2001 saw the launch of two game-changing franchises in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Lord of the Rings: Association of the Rings. Both are considered big gambles in Hollywood. Even announced his ambitious multi-movie plans for an adaptation Lord of the Rings book, director Peter Jackson admits: “It’s true that fantasy is a genre of cinema that has never been particularly well done.” Both brands are fighting the odds.

Of course, the two films were hugely successful. What’s more, they’re designed for franchising. The Harry Potter The series spans seven books across eight films. Lord of the Rings was adapted into three films, each of which was later repackaged as an expanded version. Both series lead to sub-franchises; the Harry Potter the movie begins mystical creature and Lord of the Rings paved the way for three more movie adaptations Hobbitsa much shorter book.

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Elijah Wood in The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring (2001)

The 17 films in both the franchise and spin-off have grossed over $15 billion for Warner Bros and its subsidiary New Line Cinema. This does not include other revenue streams. Harry Potter merchandise was reported to gross another $15 billion. The addition of the Harry Potter themed “The Wizarding World” to Universal theme parks increased attendance by 20%.

Hollywood likes to follow trends. Years after the success of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, other studios have tried to recapture that magic. Although there have been a few successes, such as Sunset franchise, the next decade featured mostly weird madness: Mortal Tool, Ember City, Golden Compass, Mortal Machine, Immortals. The only reason these movies don’t give executives nightmares is because they’ve been completely forgotten.

The genre’s biggest success in the years since has been arguably on television, with HBO’s Game of Thrones launched in April 2011. Like Lord of the Rings A decade ago, a television adaptation of an epic fantasy series was seen as a risky proposition that could alienate audiences.

Game of Thrones has become a cultural tool. It passed Sopranos is the most popular show HBO has ever produced. Its final season scored 32 Emmy nominations, the highest total ever for a television season. Very quickly, the future of television was determined by the search for “sequels.” Game of Thrones“.

Like every studio wants Lord of the Rings franchise, every streaming service wants Game of Thronesso much so that Jeff Bezos, Amazon chief executive officer and occasional richest man alive, is said to have instructed his subordinates: “Give me Game of thrones.“Television quickly became caught up in an arms race. HBO authorized His Dark Materials while Amazon grabs Wheel of Timetwo programs still do not match the cultural impact of Game of Thrones.

Disney seems particularly frustrated by these groundbreaking fantasy successes from its rivals. To be fair, it has enjoyed a bit of success with a trilogy of adaptations of CS Lewis’ classics Narnia book. However, those films barely broke box office records and had no real cultural sustaining power. Disney is also responsible for two Percy Jackson movies and refuse to allow their poor box office performance and critical reception to prevent the launch of an upcoming series of expensive streaming movies. The studio’s other recent youth fantasy offerings include a box office bomb A wrinkle in time and released online Chicken ArtemisA bad movie in both name and character.

It’s easy to see why Disney is so committed to this genre’s arms race. There is a compelling argument to be made that Disney has historically been the most popular and successful provider of fantasy entertainment in the US market. After all, they are the “Magic Kingdom”. The studio’s animated classics are popularized by witches and wizards, swords and magic. Many children are first exposed to the magic through classic Disney animated movies.

There may be some corporate ego involved in this and a desire to assert dominance in a space with a clear appeal to the brand. It is appropriate Willow released at the end of the blockbuster cycle to stream fantasy shows. HBO Max hits big with Dragon House, Their first broadcast spin-off from Game of Thrones. Amazon puts its card on the table with Rings of Powerprequel of Lord of the Ringsis said to be the most expensive show ever made.

Willow see Disney operating in its comfort zone. Like many of the studio’s recent products, especially streaming, it’s an extension of an existing brand with a target audience that’s now old enough to pay for a family subscription. Disney bought Willow as part of their purchase of Lucasfilm and applied Star Wars play for the show. It brought back the original cast that included Warwick Davis and Joanne Whalley, but also added a diverse group of young actors around them.

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Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke at the end of Game of Thrones

The series was developed by Jonathan Kasdan, who worked on Solo: A Star Wars Story with his father Lawrence. That older Kasdan in turn wrote credits for Lucasfilm projects like BILLIONhe Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedialong with Disney’s recent re-launch Divine Power Awakens. Obviously it’s very important to Disney that this movie be successful, but it also has to maintain continuity with the original George Lucas-produced film. Willow embrace its highly imaginative traps. The dialogue is filled with references to world-building. Has great practical effect. The character designs feel like they’ve been lifted from the covers of styrofoam paperback books. There are ancient castles, lovely rogues, wicked rogues and loyal knights.

With bright colors and delicate designs, the world of Willow seems polite compared to the more grounded and dirty aesthetic of something like Lord of the Rings Good movies Game of Thrones Franchising.

However, there is an obvious tension in the Willow. The program is wary of also dreamy. There are a lot of obscene jokes and self-awareness, so that the audience doesn’t think the film is taking itself too seriously. The soundtrack includes a lot of contemporary pop music, including covers of songs like Hurdy Gurdy Man, Enter Sandman and sun black holealong with a slow dance to Crimson and clover. There are plenty of references to other Lucasfilm properties that audiences already know they love.

Undoubtedly, Disney is chasing its own fantasy here, hoping to craft a classic tale of swords and magic that will appeal to audiences traditionally wary of the genre. Only time will tell if Willow is suitably enchanting.

‘Willow’ now available on Disney+

https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/can-willow-fulfil-disneys-fantasy-42183482.html Will Willow be able to fulfill Disney’s dream?

Fry Electronics Team

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