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George Lucas Brought ‘Willow’ to Fest in 1988

George Lucas Brought ‘Willow’ to Fest in 1988

Set to receive the honorary Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, George Lucas is no stranger to the Croisette. The legendary filmmaker — whose first feature, THX-1138, screened at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 1971 — brought Willow to the festival in 1988. 

Directed by Ron Howard and counting Lucas as a producer, Willow follows the eponymous farmer, played by then-17-year-old Warwick Davis, joining disgraced warrior Madmartigan (Val Kilmer) on a mission to save a baby prophesized to end the reign of an evil queen (Jean Marsh). The movie hit theaters on May 20, 1988, and collected $57 million worldwide ($151 million today), which was less than Lucas’ previous hits like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost ArkTHR’s review called Willow “relentlessly flat” but noted that Howard’s “ever gentle but robust directorial touch is always in evidence.”

Ahead of the movie’s theatrical release, during a Cannes press conference, Lucas criticized the U.S. media’s focus on box office and said that some pundits “seem to have lost the sense that a film is more than a commodity.” His remarks about the obsession with a movie’s financial bottom line still ring true: “I think that’s a tragedy, and hopefully that whole aspect of the film industry will diminish and people will start discussing the content and artistry of filmmaking.”

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