Just a few months after the Season 1 finale released on Disney+, Willow seemingly got the worst kind of news that a streaming series with the potential for a long run can get: cancellation after just one round of episodes. While the early reports suggested that Willow became the third show cancelled by Disney+ in the span of a month, some new comments from showrunner Jon Kadsan suggest that fans didn’t get the whole story. As it turns out, he had his eye on the entertainment industry news as well, and he takes issue with the reports that the fantasy series was “cancelled.”
Willow brought Warwick Davis back to the role of Willow Ufgood that he debuted all the way back in 1988 in the film of the same name, as well as plenty of newcomers. The show ended on a tease of not just one but two more seasons despite not having a guaranteed renewal, with Jon Kasdan explaining why when speaking to CinemaBlend back in January.
Now, in the wake of the reports of cancellation, the showrunner has taken to Twitter to point out that the truth is a lot more complicated. Writing that he appreciates that “punchy headlines drive clicks,” he feels “fairly confident that, if asked, neither I, nor the folks at Lucasfilm, would or have actually characterized it” as Willow being cancelled after one season. He continued:
The truth is less splashy, but here it is: A decision was made last week to release our main cast for other series opportunities that may arise for them in the coming year. With all the tv and movies in production around the world, it feels unfair to limit an actor’s availability without a clear sense of when you’re going to need them again. It’s further trivialized by the simple reality that the scripts we’ve been working on require just as many actors (from our first season) with whom no such contractual hold exists. Nothing prevented Annabelle Davis, for example, from taking another show, but you better believe Mims appears in every single VOLUME II chapter.
Apparently, the “cancellation” only goes as far as the main cast members not being contractually obligated to pass on non-Willow projects over the next year. Cast options expiring have spelled trouble for shows in the past, with clocks ticking to figure out the future. For example, Manifest seemed doomed despite rescue efforts due to cast options expiring back in 2021 after its NBC cancellation, and Magnum P.I. was close to the wire of cast options expiring last summer after the CBS cancellation.
Of course, both of those shows were ultimately saved by other platforms and are just two examples, so I’m going to embrace Jon Kasdan’s optimism about the teased Volume II coming to Disney+ with returning cast members… eventually. The showrunner went on to make the point that there’s a trend in production on streaming shows, and this is a matter of Willow not reentering production over the course of the next year rather than not reentering production ever. He continued:
Due to forces much larger and more intricate than I would ever pretend to fully understand, production of streaming shows is slowing down across the entire industry, and Willow won’t resume filming in the next 12 months. But here’s what’s equally true: with the enthusiastic and unwavering support of Lucasfilm and Disney, we’ve developed and written what we hope is a brain-meltingly fun, richer, darker and better VOLUME II, which builds on the characters and story of our first eight chapters (The Wyrm survives!).
Perhaps it’s no wonder that even the showrunner was confused about the show’s future earlier this year! His optimism about a “brain-meltingly fun” Volume II suggests that the next batch of episodes (if and when it ever comes) could be even more thrilling than the first. His mention of production of streaming shows “slowing down across the entire industry” also makes me wonder if some of the many recently cancelled streaming shows aren’t quite as dead as they seem. Disney+ did just axe Big Shot and The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, after all! Check out Kasdan’s full statement:
For now, Willow fans can just take heart that Jon Kasdan expects the fantasy series to get a second season with the support of Lucasfilm and Disney, even if it won’t happen in 2023. For now, you can always revisit the eight episodes of Season 1 and the 1988 film streaming with a Disney+ subscription. You can also find some upcoming viewing options with our 2023 TV premiere schedule.