Over the past few years Disney has been releasing live-action versions of some of their popular animated films to varied success. Some were pretty great (Cinderella, Maleficent while other, eh, not-so-much (Alice in Wonderland). But like it or not, there’s up to 15 planned Disney live action remakes of animated films coming our way with John Favreau’s The Jungle Book hitting next in early April.
One of these films I’ve been keeping a close eye on is the live action Pete’s Dragon remake as it’s written and directed by a friend of mine named David Lowery. I met David a few years back on the film festival circuit where he was a new kid on the block with a great eye for quietly gorgeous films and excellent editing sensibilities. His 2009 film St. Nick was his first feature and showcased his eye for the lovely fantasy of childhood as the film showed the escapades of two young runaways. Based on that success Lowery was able to write and direct Ain’t Them Bodies Saints which starred Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster. A crazy fast rise for a guy who had been quietly working his ass off building a career.
While myself and many other film festival frequenters knew Lowery had the goods there weren’t many of us who weren’t completely stunned when he told us he had been tapped for a reboot (ugh, that word) of the beloved 1977 Disney animated/live-action mashup Pete’s Dragon but after letting the news settle, it made perfect sense.
Lowery understands the magic, whimsy and inherence sadness in childhood and while the 1977 film is more known for great songs and a drunken Mickey Rooney, it’s really a story of growing up in a painful time and leaving behind the whimsy of childhood. I have complete faith David will capture this in the film. That’s the poster down below and although I do wish there was an animated or some kind of live-action dragon, that’s a pretty awesome poster that gives a great sense of how the film will play out. It took me a few minutes to even see Pete which is pretty cool. Pete’s Dragon hits theaters this August.