Pete’s Dragon is a re-telling of a much-beloved older Disney movie that, like Disney and director Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book, will reach theaters in 2016. Officially described as “a reimagining of Disney’s cherished family film,” the story for the 2016 version of Pete’s Dragon – based on the original screen story written by Seton I. Miller and S.S. Field for the 1977 live-action/animated musical film of the same name – was co-written by Toby Halbrooks and David Lowery, with the latter also directing. Halbrooks previously served as a producer on such indie/arthouse films as Upstream Color, Listen Up Philip, and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints – the latter of which was also written and directed by Lowery, at that.
Taking the previous work of the film’s writers and director into consideration, it seems fair to assume that the Pete’s Dragon remake will boast a rather different tone and style than its predecessor – itself, a whimsical family-friendly romp that features over the top villains and musical numbers/sequences aplenty. The 1977 version of Pete’s Dragon also takes place in the early 1900s in the seaside village of Passamaquoddy, whereas the 2016 version (it seems) takes place during the present-day in the Pacific Northwest (while the actual movie was filmed in New Zealand), as illustrated by the film’s newly-released teaser trailer (see above).
For more on the 2016 version of Pete’s Dragon, check out the official synopsis below, followed the first official screenshots that Disney has released for the film:
For years, old wood carver Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. To his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales…until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley). Pete is a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliott. And from Pete’s descriptions, Elliott seems remarkably similar to the dragon from Mr. Meacham’s stories. With the help of Natalie (Oona Laurence), an 11-year-old girl whose father Jack (Wes Bentley) owns the local lumber mill, Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this dragon.
The Pete’s Dragon teaser trailer strikes a decidedly more dramatic tone than the original 1977 movie ever did, yet it also leaves room for a sense of wonder and enchantment; much like the studio’s trailer marketing approach for Favreau’s The Jungle Book, it appears Disney is going to be selling Lowery’s Pete’s Dragon as more of a serious, yet family-friendly, adventure than its predecessor was. That’s not to say the trailers for either of these two films are misleading, though, as Disney’s recent slate of live-action/CGI fairy tale re-retellings have so far striven to put more emotionally-grounded, yet still playful and imaginative, spins on such widely-known (and cherished) stories as Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty (with Maleficent), and Cinderella. Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon look to be cut from that same cloth too, based on the footage and details released for both of them, up to this point.
While Disney’s recent live-action fairy tale re-tellings have all performed well commercially, their overall reception has been more lukewarm to date. Cinderella earned more than it fair share of critical acclaim, but critics and the general public alike had comparatively mixed feelings about Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent – films that, similar to Pete’s Dragon, are more proper “re-imaginings” than remakes of their predecessors. On the other hand, seeing as Disney clearly has no plans to stop with this parade of live-action remakes anytime soon – what with Beauty and the Beast set to arrive in 2017 and four “untitled live-action fairy tale projects” now having official release dates – hopefully more of these films will be true “re-imaginings” that, as appears to be the case with Pete’s Dragon, attempt to do something more creative with these well-known stories than just rehash them… whether that approach works or not.
Pete’s Dragon opens in U.S. theaters on August 12th, 2016.
Source: Walt Disney Pictures
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