As a child I remember watching the Original Pete’s Dragon with my brother. He loved that movie! So, I was excited when I learned recently that Disney was releasing a new version! Here are some fun facts from the Disney Press kit! Also, read till the end for some awesome printables!
~ THE STORY ~
For years, old wood-carver Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted children in the sleepy town of Millhaven 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 in these very woods, his 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 to speak of, who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliot, and from his descriptions, Elliot seems remarkably similar to the fabled dragon from Mr. Meacham’s stories.
As Grace slowly begins to earn Pete’s trust, opening his eyes to the possibility that there is a world beyond his forest, his presence causes Grace to take a look at her own life, including her relationship with Jack (Wes Bentley), who owns the local lumber mill. Jack wants to support Grace’s endeavors to study and protect the surrounding woods but needs to focus on keeping his company profitable at the same time, and it is driving a wedge between them.
When Pete’s idyllic life with Elliot in the forest is in danger, Grace, along with the help of Jack’s 11- year-old daughter Natalie (Oona Laurence), sets out to uncover the truth about this dragon and determine where Pete came from…and where he belongs.
A reimagining of Disney’s cherished family film, “Pete’s Dragon” is directed by David Lowery from a screenplay by Lowery & Toby Halbrooks based on a screenplay by Malcolm Marmorstein and produced by Jim Whitaker, p.g.a., with Barrie M. Osborne serving as executive producer.
~ CREATING ELLIOT ~
Stories which feature dragons have appeared throughout history in fairy tales, myths and folk-lore, and most cultures have their own beliefs as to what dragons symbolize.
Because dragons are often depicted as vicious, scaly, lizard-like creatures and rarely shown as approachable, friendly or heroic, Elliot’s appearance and personality were the focus of countless meetings between the filmmakers and Weta Digital, which took place over the better part of a year.
A key objective from day one was to really sell the idea of a friendship between a child and an animal and to show how special that bond can be. But writer/director David Lowery wanted audiences at first to be uncertain about Elliot and his intentions.
Says Bryce Dallas Howard, “Elliot is not like other dragons. He’s playful and innocent and the ultimate best friend, and all he really wants is a family. He is absolutely massive and has a really ominous presence and has the ability to be fierce and breathe fire and fly, but he is also tender and warm and nurturing and protective.”
For the film’s Oscar® nominated visual effects supervisor, Weta Digital’s Eric Saindon (“The Hobbit” films and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy), it presented him with quite a challenge. He explains, “It’s easy to make dragons look scary and it’s easy to make them look cartoony, but we didn’t want either of those for this dragon. We wanted him to have a lot of character so that everyone comes out of the theater in love with him.”
“Elliot has a personality which is unique in terms of dragons we have seen on-screen before,” adds producer Jim Whitaker. “Sometimes we see him as potentially dangerous, but other times he is absolutely lovable.”
Instead of the scaly reptile look, Lowery wanted to go in the complete opposite direction and asked Weta to come up with designs for an entirely new dragon. “David wanted more of a mammalian- looking creature, albeit, one that was very large,” says Saindon.
Saindon and the team at Weta began their creative process by reviewing many different species in the animal kingdom to analyze their movements. “We based our animation, in part, on references to animals like dogs, cats, lions and monkeys,” he says, “But we also felt a certain obligation to honor the animated Elliot from the 1977 film in some ways.”
In order to create a dragon covered in fur, Weta had to digitally create each individual hair on Elliot’s body. “That was one of our biggest stumbling blocks on this movie, at least from a technology standpoint,” says Saindon. “Other characters with hair or fur that we created in the past had around a million hairs, but Elliot is a giant, hairy, green dragon with closer to 15 million hairs, which was 15 times more hair than any character we’d done before.”
In the end, Elliot turned out to be an approximately 24-foot tall, green, furry dragon that can breathe fire, turn invisible and melt your heart. “Elliot is a big, boisterous playful dragon, but he also has a very quiet and sensitive side that really does come through on-screen,” says Lowery.
“He’s definitely not your normal dragon,” adds Oakes Fegley. “He’s really, really, really fluffy and he’s also got these two big teeth so he’s kind of menacing at the same time.”
Says Oona Laurence, “He is green and kind of cute, but he’s also very big and very scary, so he kind of has two sides. He can be cuddly like a little puppy or get mad and scary when he is protecting Pete.”
Here is a trailer you can view:
This will definitely be a movie I see with the kids! It looks fantastic!
So mark it on your calendar! Pete’s Dragon soars into theaters August 12, 2016! (And get your FREE printable pack here!)