Hugh Jackman is dangling from a wire, floating roughly 35 feet over a full-scale model of a majestic pirate ship. Down below, diabolical sea-dwellers engage in an animated fistfight, and Jackman – dressed to the teeth as the pirate Blackbeard – descends over and over again into the fray. Once, when the wire pulls the A-list actor back into the rafters, he spies us… a small group of film journalists invited to the set of Pan to watch the actor and his colleagues at work. For just a moment, he breaks character. The menacing pirate is gone, and Hugh Jackman, The Movie Star, is flashing his brilliant smile and waving happily, prop sword in hand. It’s a beautiful, bizarre and wonderful movie moment I’ll never forget.

Pan poster

Pan, in case you don’t yet know, is director Joe Wright’s foray into the imaginative world of Peter Pan, for a live-action blockbuster that will hit theaters on July 24. The 3D family adventure stars Jackman, Rooney Mara (Tiger Lily), Garret Hedlund (Hook), and 11-year-old newcomer Levi Miller (Peter) in a unique spin on the traditional Peter Pan narrative.

To help explain Wright’s vision for Pan, Warner Bros. invited us to a sprawling film set on the outskirts of London, where we ate with pirates, walked the planks of huge pirate ships, waved at Hugh Jackman (see above), and learned the following about this summer’s Pan:

Pan cartoon
This Is NOT A Remake Of The Disney Cartoon
Joe Wright and his creative team on Pan made it abundantly clear during our set visit that they weren’t setting out to do a live-action version of the classic Walt Disney cartoon that most of us grew up on. Their inspiration comes from J.M. Barrie’s works, Peter Pan, of The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. Most of the creators in the production offices admitted to not watching the Disney cartoon in preparation for working on this feature, because Joe Wright’s vision is so different from the world that exists in the animated take. That’s not to say Wright (Atonement, Hanna, Anna Karenina) doesn’t utilize familiar aspects from the Peter Pan cartoon. Quite the contrary. But it’s HOW he uses them in Pan that sets this movie apart. Let’s continue to explore.

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