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 »
3,294 ( 79)
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?


Sandy Hook victim Jessica Rekos had a passion about becoming a marine biologist after watching the movie along with the sequels and reboot. She also wrote about orcas in her journal. See more »


When Willy is being brought out of the tank the water level is shown at 8 ft. But in the next shot you see Jessie and Rae getting Willy in the net, the water level is marked off at 11 ft. See more »


Jesse: [feeds Willy the salmon] This is from me to you. Here you go, bud. Got that with all my pocket money. Enjoy.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title card forms around Willy's dorsal fin after he gets captured as the scene fades to the center of the Pioneer Courthouse Square. See more »

Alternate Versions

The March 2021 TV airing on 9Go! France plasters Warner Bros. Family Entertainment with the 2021 Warner Bros. Pictures fanfare. See more »


Will You Be There
(Theme from "Free Willy")
Written and Produced by Michael Jackson
Co-Produced by Bruce Swedien
Performed by Michael Jackson
Courtesy of Epic Records
See more »

User Reviews

Impossible, but very good
7 September 2004 | by lord2480See all my reviews

First, of all it is impossible for a 12-year old kid to have a friendship with a killer whale. However, it is pure magic. A 12-year street kid Jesse(Jason James Richter) ends up getting arrested for spraying graffiti all over a northwest aquatic park. He ends up having the responsibility to clean up. Meanwhile, he lives with a foster care family, the Greenwoods(Micheal Madsen and Jayne Atkinson) until Dwight(Mykelti T. Williamson)can find his mother. But, he ends meet a pal by the name of Willy. He's a killer whale. He's a beautiful animal and well tamed, but he is very, very sick, needs his family and wants to go back out into the ocean. The emotion in this movie is touching.

Being a 24 year old, I had a ball.

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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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