Disney is moving full steam ahead with a remake of its 1977 live-action/animation hybrid Pete’s Dragon, and today brings news that the studio is in talks with Jurassic World actress Bryce Dallas Howard in hopes that she’ll take on a major role in the pic.
Final casting has been taking place as the remake ramps up to shoot in New Zealand next January through April. Robert Redford, Oona Laurence,and Oakes Fegley are all already set for lead roles, and David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) is currently attached to direct, working from a script he co-wrote with Toby Halbrooks.
This won’t be the same Pete’s Dragon we all grew up with, however. The musical numbers have been cut out entirely, and the pic is set against the backdrop of loggers cutting down a forest. Pete (Fegley), orphaned after his parents died in a car crash, has lived in said forest for most of his life after being taken under the wing of Elliot, a kindly dragon.
Laurence, meanwhile, will play the daughter of a local mill owner who befriends Pete. Redford will take on the role of a local who tells fantastical tales about the dragons in the forest, which has earned him ridicule from the other townspeople. It’s unclear what role Howard would take on apart from that it’s the female lead.
Other roles still to be cast include the greedy brother of the mill owner as well as a forest ranger who discovers Pete living in the forest. It’s possible that Howard could be playing the ranger, but that’s just speculation at this point.
Pete’s Dragon is set to shoot in New Zealand’s Stone Street Studios, the same place where Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy was shot, so that should give you an idea of the locale Disney is shooting for with this remake. We’ve also learned that Elliot will be an entirely CG creation, so it’s safe to say that we should expect some pretty impressive visual effects from Pete’s Dragon.