Principal photography has begun on the David Lawry (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) re-imagining of Disney’s 1977 classic Pete’s Dragon. Set for a 2016 release, the film has found it’s fantasy setting in
former Middle Earth New Zealand, instead of just green screens (thank goodness).
The film stars newcomer Oakes Fegley as 10 year-old Pete who has a dragon friend named Elliott who can become invisible. Elliot will be brought to life by Weta Digital, the Wellington-based digital visual effects company that did the VFX for the Hobbit and Planet of the Apes will animate the dragon. So does this make Elliott the dragon Smaug’s distance cousin?
Bryce Dallas Howard is set to co-star as Grace, the park ranger who discovers Pete and his dragon. The story will deviate from the original family film but intends to keep it’s theme at the core. Robert Redford is also attached as Grace’s father. Their characters, while not the same as the original’s, will be very close as it seems that Grace is a variation of Helen Reddy’s role and Redford’s will be similar to Mickey Rooney’s. Wes Bentley and recently announced Karl Urban, will also be featured as brothers and Oona Laurence will play a young girl who befriends Pete.
The last movies to be shot in New Zealand were the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films. Locations for Pete’s Dragon include the Rotorua area, Wellington area, and the South Island communities of Invercargill and Tapanui. Film New Zealand and Film Wellington provided Disney assistance in scouting and the shooting locations for Pete’s Dragon were confirmed to be set in the country. Disney last filmed the fantasy adventure, Bridge to Terabithia in 2007 there, which was shot in Auckland, New Zealand.
Are you excited to see Pete’s Dragon join the slew of planned Disney live-action fantasy adaptations? Are you bummed that it will be different than the original? Let us know in the comments!