David Lowery’s excellent “Pete’s Dragon” adventure

On April 30, Texas filmmaker David Lowery, who wrote and directed “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” and edited the enigmatic “Upstream Color,” wrapped the final day of his 74-day shoot for “Pete’s Dragon,” his remake of the 1977 Disney live-action/animated movie.

Man, this was a weird movie. (Note: this is not from Lowery's version)

Man, this was a weird movie. (Note: this poster is not for Lowery’s version)


The 1977 version directed by Don Chaffey featured movie lifer Mickey Rooney as a lighthouse keeper on the Maine coast in the early 1900s, soft rock icon Helen Reddy — who is was too old for the part — as his daughter, and ’70s TV and movie staple Sean Marshall as the runaway orphan with the giant, invisible dragon pal. British actor Jim Dale starred as the bad guy, a patent medicine quack named Dr. Terminus — one of the best Disney villain monikers this side of Cruella de Vil. There were a lot of songs, some of which were annoyingly catchy, some of which were just annoying. Man, Disney ’70s live-action was weird.

Lowery’s version, slated for release Aug. 12, 2016, stars Oakes Fegley, Oona Laurence, Robert Redford, Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley and Karl Urban. It will be a re-imagining, not a straight remake, of the original. There will be no songs.

Lowery has posted a fascinating production diary over at his website.

From his May 4 entry, written as he flew back to the United States: “Making movies is so weird! Half the time when you’re in the middle of it you think it’s the stupidest thing in the world (and I don’t mean that facetiously — you literally wonder why in the name of all that is holy anyone would want to do this) and then the moment it’s over you get all mushy.” And “Shooting this movie felt just as small and handcrafted as any I’ve ever I’ve ever made. It just went on for a whole lot longer. Exchange the pursuit of financing for the management of studio notes and it’s all sorta the same.”

The whole thing is worth reading; I remain interested in how all this turned out.

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