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Free Willy is a 1993 American family drama film directed by Simon Wincer, produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Jennie Lew Tugend, and written by Keith A. Walker and Corey Blechman from a story by Walker. The film stars Jason James Richter as a foster boy who befriends a captive orca.

The film received positive attention from critics and was a financial success, grossing $153.6 million over $20 million, and has a small cult following. It eventually grew into a small franchise, spawning three sequels and a video game companion.

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. It was also included on the film's album, Dangerous and All Time Greatest Movie Songs, released by Sony in 1999. Jackson also performed songs for the film's first sequel.

Plot

The film begins with a pod of orcas swimming near the coastline of the Pacific Northwest. The pod is tracked down by a group of whalers, and one of them, Willy, is trapped and sent to an amusement park.

Sometime later in Astoria, Oregon, Jesse, a 12-year-old boy abandoned by his mother six years before, is caught after vandalizing the park. Jesse's social worker Dwight earns him a reprieve by finding him a foster home and having him clean up the graffiti at the theme park. His foster parents are the supportive and kind Annie and Glen Greenwood, but Jesse is initially unruly and hostile to them.

While working at the park, Jesse encounters Willy. Willy is regarded as surly and uncooperative by the park staff, including his trainer Rae Lindley, but he saves Jesse from drowning, starting a bond, and becomes friendly with his keeper, Haida native Randolph Johnson. Jesse then teaches tricks to Willy, and will be given a permanent job at the marine after probation. Jesse also warms into his new home

The owner of the amusement park, Dial, sees the talent Jesse and Willy have together and makes plans to host "The Willy Show" in hopes of finally making money from Willy, who has thus far been a costly venture for him. On the day of the first performance, Willy is antagonized by the children banging constantly on his underwater observation area and refuses to perform. Willy smashes against the tank, causing damage to it. Jesse storms off in tears and plans to run away. Later, while at the tank, Jesse notices Willy's family calling to him and Dial's assistant Wade and other men sneaking into the underwater observation area. They damage the tank enough that the water will gradually leak out in an effort to kill Willy and claim his $1,000,000 insurance policy.

Jesse, Randolph, and Rae hatch a plan to release Willy. They use equipment at the park to load Willy onto a trailer, and Jesse and Randolph use Glen's truck to tow Willy to a marina. They try to stay on the back roads to prevent being spotted with a gigantic orca, and eventually get stuck in the mud. Wade meanwhile informs Dial that Willy is missing, and begins a search to find Willy.

Unable to move the trailer himself, Jesse calls Glen and Annie using a CB radio in Glen's truck. Annie and Glen show up and help free the truck, and continue on to the marina to release Willy. Dial knows where they are headed, and when they show up, he, Wade, and his henchmen are blocking the gate into the marina. Glen charges at them full speed in the truck, forcing the henchmen to scatter as the truck crashes through the gate to the marina. Glen immediately turns the truck around and backs Willy into the water, flooding the truck in the process.

Willy is finally released into the water, but Dial and his goons attempt to stop them. During the struggle, Jesse gets Willy to swim away while the whaling ships close in with their nets. Jesse runs towards the seawall, calling for Willy to follow him, steering him away from the boats. Jesse goes to the edge where Willy is and tells him that if he makes the jump, it'll be his highest and he'll be free. Jesse says a tearful goodbye, but pulls himself together and goes back to the top. He prays a Haida prayer Randolph had taught him, giving Willy a signal and makes the jump and is finally free to return to his family. Everyone cheers, Willy leaps out of the water in celebration, and Jesse happily celebrates, but stops when he realizes that he'll probably never see Willy again. He goes back to Glen and Annie who hug him as they look out into the sea. Willy calls out to Jesse in the distance and both say their final farewell. The movie ends with Willy finding his family, and the entire pod swimming and jumping through the ocean.

Cast

Production

Release

Home Media

Transcript

Gallery

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Media
Films: Free-willy-logo | Free-willy-2---the-adventure-home-logo | Free-willy-3-the-rescue-logo | Free-willy-escape-from-pirates-cove-logo
TV series: Free-willy-logo
Characters
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Warner bros family entertainment
Theatrical films
The Magic Voyage (UK distribution) | Dennis the Menace | Free Willy | Tom and Jerry: The Movie (home video distribution) | George Balanchine's The Nutcracker | Batman: Mask of the Phantasm | Thumbelina | Black Beauty | A Troll in Central Park | Little Giants | The NeverEnding Story III | Richie Rich | Born to Be Wild | The Pebble and the Penguin (international) | A Little Princess | Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home | The Amazing Panda Adventure | It Takes Two | Gumby: The Movie (German distribution) | The Adventures of Pinocchio (German distribution) | Space Jam | Shiloh | Cats Don't Dance | A Rat's Tale | The Fearless Four | Air Bud (UK distribution) | Wild America | The Swan Princess II: Escape from Castle Mountain (home video distribution) | Free Willy 3: The Rescue | Pippi Longstocking (home video distribution) | Quest for Camelot | Little Men | The King and I | The Iron Giant | Shiloh 2: Shiloh Season | Pokémon: The First Movie | My Dog Skip | Pokémon: The Movie 2000 | The Scarecrow | Pokémon 3: The Movie | Cats & Dogs | Osmosis Jones | The Little Polar Bear | Scooby-Doo | The Powerpuff Girls Movie | Kangaroo Jack | Looney Tunes: Back in Action | Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed | Clifford's Really Big Movie | Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light | Laura's Star | The Polar Express | Racing Stripes | Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Corpse Bride | The Little Polar Bear 2 – The Mysterious Island | The Thief Lord | Saving Shiloh | The Ant Bully | Happy Feet | TMNT | Speed Racer | Star Wars: The Clone Wars | Shorts: The Adventures of the Wishing Rock | Laura's Star and the Mysterious Dragon Nian | Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore | Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole | Yogi Bear | Top Cat: The Movie | Dolphin Tale | Happy Feet Two | Laura's Star and the Dream Monsters | The Lego Movie | Dolphin Tale 2 | Max | Storks | The Lego Batman Movie
Direct-to-video films
Live-Action films: Dennis the Menace Strikes Again | Addams Family Reunion | Richie Rich's Christmas Wish | Ace Ventura Jr.: Pet Detective | Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins | Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster | Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove

Scooby-Doo films: Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island | Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost | Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders | Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase | Scooby-Doo! and the Legend of the Vampire | Scooby-Doo! and the Monster of Mexico | Scooby-Doo! and the Loch Ness Monster | Aloha, Scooby-Doo! | Scooby-Doo! in Where's My Mummy? | Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! | Chill Out, Scooby-Doo! | Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur | Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery
Looney Tunes films: Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation | Tweety's High-Flying Adventure | Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas | Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run
Other films: The Snow Queen | The Snow Queen's Revenge | The Mighty Kong | Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero | Wakko's Wish | Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip | Millionaire Dogs | The Scarecrow | Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker | Pokémon: Mewtwo Returns | The Little Polar Bear: Lars and the Little Tiger | The Little Polar Bear: The Dream of Flying | The Little Polar Bear: Nanouk's Rescue | Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman | ¡Mucha Lucha!: The Return of El Maléfico | The Little Polar Bear: A Visitor from the South Pole | Nine Dog Christmas | Kangaroo Jack: G'Day U.S.A.! | Laura's Christmas Star

Notable television shows
Tiny Toon Adventures | Taz-Mania | Batman: The Animated Series | The Plucky Duck Show | The Little Polar Bear | Animaniacs | Free Willy | Freakazoid! | Pinky and the Brain |

The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries | Road Rovers | Superman: The Animated Series | Waynehead | The Legend of Calamity Jane | The New Batman Adventures | The New Batman/Superman Adventures | Histeria! | Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain | Batman Beyond | Detention | Static Shock | Justice League | The Zeta Project | Baby Looney Tunes | Laura's Star | ¡Mucha Lucha! | Ozzy & Drix | What's New, Scooby-Doo? | The Little Polar Bear | Duck Dodgers | Teen Titans | Xiaolin Showdown | The Batman | Justice League Unlimited | Coconut Fred's Fruit Salad Island | Johnny Test | Firehouse Tales | Krypto the Superdog | Loonatics Unleashed | Legion of Super Heroes | Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! | Tom and Jerry Tales


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