When Disney bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas, they didn’t just acquire Star Wars and Indiana Jones, but also Willow, the beloved 1988 fantasy movie starring Warwick Davis. There had been talk of a sequel for years, but the franchise finally returned with an eight-episode series which launched on Disney+ last year. However, Disney cancelled Willow and then removed the series from the streaming service after just six months.
According to a report by Forbes, Disney spent $105.9 million on making Willow, which is a lot of money to shell out for something that currently can’t be seen legally. However, as the series was produced in the United Kingdom, it benefited from several reimbursements. The show received a $20.4 million reimbursement for filming in the UK and received an additional reimbursement of $5.1 million for filming in Wales specifically, bringing the net spending on Willow down to $80.4 million.
During the pandemic, studios were eager to spend lavishly in a bid to attract subscribers, but Willow didn’t have the audience to justify its budget. The show reportedly had the lowest audience for a Disney+ series at the time, with less than 500,000 households watching the first two episodes in their first five days of release.
When it was announced that Willow would be removed from Disney+, showrunner Jon Kasdan reacted to the news and was surprisingly okay with it. “I’ve been quiet on this news that Willow is leaving Disney+ ’cause… I’m kinda into it,” Kasdan wrote on Twitter. “I grew up at a time when Disney movies were periodically re-released and not available to own, and it made them… more special.” Kasdan continued, “I worry about many things… but NONE of them are that Willow will never be available again, either on Disney+ or perhaps… someplace else, & ya never know where that could lead… stranger things have happened. So grateful for all the love and enthusiasm; it’s truly what keeps these worlds alive.“
Although Jon Kasdan remains hopeful that the series will return for a second season somewhere down the road, I can’t imagine Disney is looking to spend another $100 million for yet another sequel few people will watch.