If there's anyone who can handle the sadistic animatronic terrors that occupy a theme park, it's the tour de force himself Nicolas Cage whose world's about to get a lot smaller in Willy's Wonderland. The Oscar-winner plays a drifter hired as a janitor who gets a lot more than he bargains for when tasked to handle the overnight shift at an amusement park filled with deadly sentient animatronic animals led by Willy himself. Entertainment Weekly spoke with director Kevin Lewis about the upcoming project. "Nic plays a janitor who gets trapped in this children's funhouse-amusement park with Willy, the animatronic weasel, and his gang," Lewis said. "I call them the Psychopathic Animatronic Misfits. You've got Willy the Weasel, Artie the Alligator, Gus the Gorilla. There's eight of them, and they spring to life and attack him and others, and Nic has to battle his way out. It's like man versus machine! They've been doing this in the past and they picked the wrong guy: Nic." The director drew inspiration from the horror films he grew up with.
"It's a fun, wacky, crazy rollercoaster ride movie," Lewis continues. "Willy's Wonderland is like a retro-throwback to the '80s. I grew up with Sam Raimi and Evil Dead and those kinds of fun '80s horror and action horror films. This was made — and I truly mean this — this was made by a fanboy for all the fanboys and -girls. A producer friend of mine, Jeremy Davis, brought me the project, and we both fell in love with it. We worked on it, we got Nic attached, he really fell in love with the project, and saw our vision of it, and we got it going. Nic's been a fantastic partner on this movie. It's vintage Nic. He just brings so much to this movie. I think people are going to really dig it."
From Wally's to Willy's Wonderland
Lewis was able to shoot and wrap the production in a brief time this year before the pandemic hit. "We wrapped right before the pandemic hit," says the director. "It was crazy. We wrapped, and I came home, and then within two weeks, we were in lockdown. Crazy." The original title for the film was Wally's Wonderland but changed to Willy's Wonderland. "Yeah, it was called Wally's Wonderland, and we just decided at the end of the day, we'd change it to Willy's." says Lewis. "I think it was just, you know, Wally's World and stuff. We felt that Willy's was a better fit. Nic liked Willy's too, so we went with Willy's." Written by G.O. Parsons, the film also stars Beth Grant, Beth Grant, Caylee Cowan, Grant Cramer, and Emily Tosta. The film is slated to be released in 2021.