Walt Disney Pictures is remaking its 1977 live-action/animated musical Pete's Dragon as a modern-day live-action/CGI movie, similar to the studio's recent live-action reimaginings of its classic animated film adaptations like Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella, among others. This new Pete's Dragon is co-written and directed by David Lowery, a filmmaker whose sole previous directorial effort was the gritty crime/romance drama, Ain't Them Bodies Saints (which was released in 2013) - something that makes him an intriguing choice to tackle the decidedly fluffy (in a good way) tale of young orphan Pete and his friend Elliott, an enormous dragon who can turn invisible as he deems fit.
The Pete's Dragon remake cast includes Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World) as Grace, a park ranger who discovers that Elliott lives in the vast woods that she patrols for a living; Robert Redford (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) as Grace's father, an older fellow who has long spun yarns about dragons that none of the locals believe; Oona Laurence (Southpaw) as Natalie, a young girl who befriends Pete; and Oakes Fegley (young Eli Thompson from Boardwalk Empire) as Pete. As for Elliott: you can catch a glimpse of him in the newly-released Pete's Dragon "motion poster" (see above).
For those interested, here is the non-moving version of the Pete's Dragon poster (where Elliott stays visible):
Disney has also confirmed (via its Twitter account) that the Pete's Dragon teaser trailer will debut this Sunday (February 21st), during the Disneyland 60 special (which commemorates the 60th anniversary of the original Disneyland theme park) that will air on ABC from 8-10 pm ET. The Pete's Dragon teaser may offer a better look at Elliott (among other things) - and Pete's disappearing/reappearing pal ought to be an impressive-looking CGI character, seeing as he's being created by the same WETA Digital that brought Smaug in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy to life.
The teaser trailer may also touch (however briefly) on the main conflict of the Pete's Dragon remake, which reportedly involves loggers threatening the forest where Elliott resides. Pete's Dragon (1977) did not include any such environmental themes, but the remake - which Lowery co-wrote with his frequent collaborator Toby Halbrooks - has, in fact, promised to "reinvent the core of the original family film," so this could be how it goes about doing just that.
Environmental issues do have a bit of a history of being dealt with in a heavy-handed way in mainstream films (see FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Avatar), but such issues remain timely as ever - and Disney filmmakers seem more willing to openly tackle relevant issues with their crowd-pleasing projects lately (providing more food for thought in the process), which is an encouraging thing to see. If handled well, that could elevate Pete's Dragon into more than just a shiny re-tooling of a previous Disney film, too.
Pete's Dragon opens in U.S. theaters on August 12th, 2016.
Source: Walt Disney Pictures