A new report claims The Walt Disney Company and Lucasfilm dropped the axe on their Disney+ Willow series after just one season.
This report comes from Nellie Andreeva at Deadline who writes, “There will be no second season of Willow, Disney+’s live-action original series based on the 1988 fantasy film directed by Ron Howard.”
The series premiered on Disney+ at the end of November 2022 and concluded its eight episode season on January 11, 2023.
The series was a ratings disaster. The first two episodes premiered on November 30th on Disney+ and failed to crack Nielsen’s Top 10 Streaming Original Programs list.
In fact, the series raked in less than 349 million minutes viewed, which was what 10th ranked The Santa Clauses brought in for the week.
It didn’t get better from there. The third episode debuted on December 7th and like its premiere it did not chart on Nielsen’s Top 10 Streaming Original Programs list. In fact, the 10th ranked spot on Nielsen’s Originals chart was Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields and it clocked in 287 million minutes viewed. Meaning Willow’s viewership was below it.
The series never ranked on Nielsen’s Top 10 Streaming Original Programs list.
Not only were people not watching the series, but those who were were not enjoying it. The series received a 5.6 out of 10 rating from nearly 30,000 IMDb users.
On Rotten Tomatoes the series has a 66% Audience Score.
The series also received criticism from the screenwriter of the original film. Bob Dolman, who worked on the original film and was brought back to work on the series, told The Hollywood Reporter that the series had “more of a corporate feeling.”
He explained, “It felt that the studio was over our shoulder quite a bit — the studio being Disney and also Lucasfilm. They had good input; they had good notes. You have to move a series along, and you have to be involved in it. But I felt like we weren’t left alone enough just to toss ideas around and have the kind of freedom that I had when I was working with George and Ron. And not be worried about whether or not an idea was good or bad, but just trying things out and taking a chance and having the courage to even find a bad idea, knowing that it could lead to a good idea.”
“There are a lot of voices, and some of them aren’t necessarily voices that know more than the people that have been hired. But those voices are heard, and notes are given. In the writing room of Willow the TV series, there was constant input from other sources outside of the room. So it felt to me like we were never really alone in the room,” Dolman elaborated.
Nevertheless, he also added, “The creative process was a really happy experience, and a lot of that got through onto the screen.”
The series also attempted to normalize the sin of sodomy. Erin Kellyman, who played Jade in the series, explained to The Hollywood Reporter, “I think it’s so beautifully written. It’s been so beautifully created. It’s not a story where they’re worried about being gay. It’s not a story where they’re hyper-sexualized. It’s just two people being in love. The gender is secondary. They’re just in love with each other.”
She continued, “I think it’s really beautiful and also needed. I think for anybody that is struggling with realizing that they’re gay, or knows somebody that’s realizing that they’re gay, having this normalized representation is just so important.”
The series reported cancellation comes after The Walt Disney Company’s CEO Bob Iger indicated he would be making cuts across the company and even larger properties like Marvel and Star Wars would be affected.
During a recent appearance at a Morgan Stanley conference, The Hollywood Reporter noted Iger said, “I’m really pleased that the support that I’m getting from the content creators of the company is significant and real, and it comes in the form of reducing the expense per content, whether it’s a TV series or a film, where costs have just skyrocketed in a huge way and not a supportable way in my opinion. They all agree to that.”
He also noted that they understand “how much volume we need, reducing how much we make. So it’s how much we spend on what we make and how much we make.”
He reiterated he and the company would be cutting the amount of movies and shows they produce, ““And as we look to reduce the content that we’re creating for our own platforms, there probably are opportunities to license to third parties.”
“For a while that was verboten or something we couldn’t possibly do, because we were so favoring our own streaming platforms. But if we get to a point where we need less content for those platforms, and we still have the capability of producing that content, why not use it to grow revenue? And that’s what we would likely do,” he explained.
What do you make of Willow getting canceled?