Is there any story more touching than that of a boy befriending a dragon? No, we’re not talking about DreamWorks’ high-flying animated adventure How to Train Your Dragon, but about a much older and more nostalgic film that, like many old and nostalgic things, is getting a modern reboot.
The remake in question? A new version of Pete’s Dragon, the 1977 musical film that stands alongside Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks as one of Disney’s forays into mixing live-action and animation, was put until development around the same time that DreamWorks was prepping How to Train Your Dragon 2. Make of that what you will.
Pete’s Dragon will be something of a departure for director David Lowery, who is currently best known for his gritty R rated indie crime drama Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Lowery co-wrote the screenplay for Pete’s Dragon with his Ain’t Them Bodies Saints producer Toby Halbrook, and newcomer Oakes Fegley is set to play the lead alongside Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, and Robert Redford.
Dexter star Michael C. Hall was also set to play a role in Pete’s Dragon, but TheWrap reports that Hall is out and Karl Urban is taking over his role. It’s unclear which character he’ll be playing, or if the reboot will even retain the same supporting characters as the original film, but it would be pretty interesting to see Urban playing a Gogan.
According to TheWrap, the Pete’s Dragon reboot “aims to reinvent the core of the original family film,” so the Gogans (and their accompanying uncomfortable white slavery/child labor storyline) may not be in it at all. According to the latest synopsis, Pete is still an orphan who is raised in the forest by his dragon friend, but this time the boy-and-dragon friendship will be facilitated by CGI, rather than 2D animation.
During a Xena: Warrior Princess convention several years ago, Urban described himself as being “the worst singer in the world” before going on to prove that claim with a cover of The Beatles’ “Help!” (video evidence here). Which is to say, it’s a good thing the Pete’s Dragon reboot will reportedly not be a musical, since otherwise Urban would’ve need some quick singing lessons (or to just stick to chorus duties).
Pete’s Dragon will be in theaters on August 12th, 2016.