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Free Willy (1993)

PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Family  |  16 July 1993 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 47,019 users   Metascore: 79/100
Reviews: 56 user | 30 critic | 14 from Metacritic.com

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.



(story) (as Keith A. Walker) , (screenplay) (as Keith A. Walker) , 1 more credit »
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7 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Isaiah Malone ...
Betsy Toll ...
Passerby #1
Rob Sample ...
Passerby #2
Merrilyn Jones ...
Passerby #3
Mickey Gaines ...


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. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A 12 year old street kid. A 3 ton orca whale. A friendship you could never imagine. An adventure you'll never forget. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

16 July 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Liberen a Willy  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£4,030,138 (UK) (4 March 1994)


£5,343,231 (UK) (15 April 1994)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jack Nicholson turned down the role of the villain Dial, baulking at the low-pay offered. See more »


When Willy and Jesse are pulled out of the tank, both are soaked. But as they put Willy onto the trailer, he is still wet, but Jesse is completely dry. See more »


Mr. Dial: Nobody steals a whale.
Wade: But I'm telling you the whale is gone, the trailer is out of there, the forklift has been moved. That big mouth trainer and Indian must've done it.
Mr. Dial: This is a disaster.
Wade: Why?
Mr. Dial: Because we don't have theft insurance on the whale, that's why.
[looks at his watch]
Mr. Dial: Call Wilson, bring his crew down.
See more »


Referenced in Aspe: Free Willy (2006) See more »


How Can You Leave Me Now
Written by Paul Frazier
Performed by Funky Poets
Courtesy of Epic Records
See more »

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User Reviews

5,2??? Don't believe in this rating!!! This is the best family movie of the 90-s and the sweetest one
20 April 2004 | by (Odessa, Ukraine) – See all my reviews

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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