It may seem strange for one studio to commit to the release of two re-imaginings of past glories about orphan boys living in wooded areas – especially in the same year – but this very particular trend looks set to pay off for Walt Disney Studios in spectacular fashion, as The Jungle Book charges into theatres in April, while Pete’s Dragon is scheduled to dominate late summer. Up until now, little has been seen of this project, but with the first trailer now available, we can see that something magical this way comes.
There has always been something fascinating about the idea of dragons – these mythical creatures that have inspired so many centuries of storytelling. It seems the idea of lost children, fending for themselves and discovering spectacular secrets is also fascinating, as that plot device has given us generations of tales to pass on, too.
Pete’s Dragon has been one of the stories occupying the intersection of those two ideas for many years now, with Disney having first committed it to celluloid in 1977, with a cast featuring Sean Marshall, Helen Reddy, Jim Dale and Mickey Rooney. Blending live-action and animation, that film adaptation of a Miller and Field short story proved to be very popular, and quickly became a family classic.
But now, the story has been re-imagined, with the benefit of all the technological advancements of the intervening three decades.
“A reimagining of Disney’s cherished family film, “Pete’s Dragon” is the adventure of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliott, who just so happens to be a dragon. “Pete’s Dragon” stars Bryce Dallas Howard (“Jurassic World”), Oakes Fegley (“This is Where I Leave You”), Wes Bentley (“The Hunger Games”), Karl Urban (“Star Trek”), Oona Laurence (“Southpaw”) and Oscar® winner Robert Redford (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”). The film, which is directed by David Lowery (“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”), is written by Lowery & Toby Halbrooks based on a story by Seton I. Miller and S.S. Field and produced by Jim Whitaker, p.g.a. (“The Finest Hours”, “Friday Night Lights”), with Barrie M. Osborne (“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”, “The Great Gatsby”) serving as executive producer.
“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. Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon” opens in U.S. theaters on August 12, 2016.”
A film can hardly go wrong with Robert Redford playing a rumpled wood carver, and Bryce Dallas Howard once more emoting ‘awestruck’ as she pretends to look at giant lizards. While it is doubtful that Pete’s Dragon will reach the heady box office heights of her previous hit, Jurassic World, however, this first trailer suggests a sumptuous dip back into the wonder of Disney – all mist-draped forests and tenacious youngsters trying to get grown-ups to believe in something unbelievable.
If the dragon is indeed revealed to be the real star of the film, then Pete’s Dragon may well become one of the more delicious treats of the summer.