Free Willy

July 16th, 1993


Free Willy

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When a boy learns that a beloved killer whale is to be killed by the aquarium owners, the boy risks everything to free the whale.

Release Year: 1993

Rating: 5.5/10 (20,678 voted)

Critic's Score: 79/100

Director: Simon Wincer

Stars: Jason James Richter, Lori Petty, Michael Madsen

Fishermen separate a young orca whale (Willy) from his parents and he ends up in a fish bowl at a marina. Meanwhile, a street kid runs afoul of the law and gets caught vandalising the marina, but his social worker gets him off the hook (so to speak) provided he cleans up his mess at the marina. While there, he befriends the whale and teaches him tricks, something the trainer hasn't been able to do. But when Willy is a dud in front of the audience, the marina owner plans some bad things, and the boy and his friends must try to (*** MAJOR SPOILERS ***) free Willy.

Writers: Keith Walker, Keith Walker

Jason James Richter - Jesse
Lori Petty - Rae Lindley
Jayne Atkinson - Annie Greenwood
August Schellenberg - Randolph Johnson
Michael Madsen - Glen Greenwood
Michael Ironside - Dial
Richard Riehle - Wade
Mykelti Williamson - Dwight Mercer
Michael Bacall - Perry
Danielle Harris - Gwenie
Isaiah Malone - Vector
Betsy Toll - Passerby #1
Rob Sample - Passerby #2
Merrilyn Jones - Passerby #3
Mickey Gaines - Waiter

Taglines: How far would you go for a friend?

Release Date: 16 July 1993

Filming Locations: Astoria, Oregon, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $7,868,829 (USA) (18 July 1993)

Gross: $153,698,625 (Worldwide)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

After the release of the film, millions of moviegoers called the number showed at the end of the movie where 20 million dollars was donated for the Save the Whales Foundation.

Continuity: When Jesse is with Willy he has long hair and when he is not with the whale he has visibly shorter hair.

Rae: [to Jesse] Orcas are usually nice and smart. Willie is smart and nasty.

User Review

5,2??? Don't believe in this rating!!! This is the best family movie of the 90-s and the sweetest one

Rating: 10/10

First of all, I want to say some of my thoughts about IMDb ratings. If you look at IMDb top 250 you can hardly find any family movie . In fact, there are only three family movie (I mean live action movies not animated flicks) in this chart. They are Princess Bride on the 99 position (haven't seen yet), A Christmas Story on 142 (a movie nobody heard of besides English speaking countries) and the E.T. on the 244 (forever classic - no point denying that). And I bet you would be unable to find another one even in top 500. On the other hand you can find in this list, for example, more than eighty thrillers or more than thirty 30 war movies. Does that result means that family movies can't be good. Obviously it is not. For me the point is that many of people as well as lots of critics don't appreciate movies sweet movies without profanity, drugs, sex and violence. Cheesy movie for kids only that's not a fair grade. Well it's only my opinion but for me it's very sad when such a beautiful movie become so undeservedly underrated. Now, more directly to our movie. I watched Free Willy no less than four or five times and found it one of the best family and animal movie ever made. The bonds of friendship between man and animal are shown incredibility well here. From this point Free Willy remembered me another beautiful animal movie The Black Stallion. The unlikely friendship between twelve years old Jesse and giant whale as the main element of the story is very sweet and touching. Overall plot is well constructed (and there's no point to complain its unreality) with decent development of the main characters. Young and definitely talented Jason Jammes Richter created terrific performance of a young lonely problem boy Jesse. Also very good in the movie were August Schellenberg (as Randolph) and Michael Madsen (as Glen). As I always mentioned cinematography is pretty good, including first-rate animal action (Keiko is so cute there). The beautiful movie soundtrack written by Basil Poleuydouris a bit resembled for me terrific Carmine Coppola's score for The Black Stallion. And finally, that's maybe the most important Free Willy is a very humanistic movie, a movie that what was made with love and care about nature. Thanks to Simon Wincer for this great masterpiece. We need more movies like this, not a laughable rubbish that Hollywood studios now provide for family entertainment. I rated Free Willy 10 out of 10 as an excellent and beautiful family friendly movie. Check out also its two sequels. They are also pretty good.

Thanks for reading and sorry for my bad English.


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