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.


Simon Wincer


Keith Walker (story) (as Keith A. Walker), Keith Walker (screenplay) (as Keith A. Walker) | 1 more credit »
4,358 ( 198)
7 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »





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


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


How far would you go for a friend? See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Michael Madsen and Richard Riehle worked on the animated web series on Axe Cop (2012). See more »


When Randolph is using the crane to lift Willy out of the tank you can see the reflection of a man in the crane window. See more »


Jesse: Hey, Willy. You miss your family? Well, my mom's a pain. Couldn't take care of me. Couldn't even take care of herself. I haven't seen her since I was a little kid. But, you know, I still miss her. Greenwoods are okay. They're okay. You know, it's rough. I'm nervous with them. That's just the way it is. Could be a lot worse. Really. You understand?
[Willy opens his mouth in response]
Jesse: [petting Willy] I'm sure you miss your family too. And I hope you find them one day.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is a disclaimer at the conclusion of the first half of the credits, revealing that no whales were harassed or mistreated during the making of the movie and all scenes involving a live animal were supervised by the American Humane Association. See more »

Alternate Versions

The first Warner Bros. Family Entertainment fanfare featuring Bugs Bunny spinning the banner appears exclusively in the VHS and 1990's HBO airing. See more »


Keep on Smilin'
Written by Narada Michael Walden, Sylvester Jackson, and Sally Jo Dakota
Performed by New Kids on the Block (as NKOTB)
Courtesy of Columbia Records
See more »

User Reviews

Not aged too well
25 December 2019 | by bennnardone-88210See all my reviews

I loved this film as a child and absolutely love Orcas but I found this film harder to watch in 2019 than when I was young. Knowing the fate of Keiko the whale and knowing more about the intelligence of this marvellous species as well as the controversy around keeping them in capativity (Blackfish) made this much harder to watch.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
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USA | Mexico



Release Date:

16 July 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Free Willy See more »


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,868,829, 18 July 1993

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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