For about a year or so, Disney was in negotiations with Ain't Them Bodies Saints director David Lowery to take charge of the modern update to their 1977 deep cut classic, Pete's Dragon. That story ended with Lowery taking the post, and a movie in need of a cast. Well much like their lucky strike in terms of picking a director, Disney's luck might extend a little further, as Robert Redford has begun talking about participating in a pivotal role.
The Hollywood Reporter has the scoop that Redford is in "early talks" to play, "a local who tells tall tales involving dragons that no one believes." Judging by that description, as well as the general layout of the original Pete's Dragon cast, it's to be assumed that Robert Redford would be playing the updated version of Lampie – the lighthouse keeper originated by Mickey Rooney in the original film.
How this project landed in Redford's lap isn't that much of a mystery, considering he landed an even more incredible role in Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Considering the fact that the Hollywood legend probably had multiple pictures built into his deal, and his character's fate in the superhero sequel didn't really leave much room for a return, this looks like part of the deal that Redford signed on for.
As for the story to the new Pete's Dragon, the updated version looks to take place in a logging community that's being taken over by greedy corporate interests, instead of a lighthouse town being swindled by a sham of a physician. Considering a similar environment being featured in Ain't Them Bodies Saints, it's no surprise that David Lowery's visual style would be a perfect match to what this film is trying to accomplish. However, his hiring is far from a slam dunk, as Disney attempted a similar gamble with hiring Craig Gillespie for their summer sports flop, Million Dollar Arm.
Pete's Dragon is a perfect example of a film that makes for a perfect remake. The original is well known enough to draw an older crowd, but it's obscure enough that it's a blank slate for reinterpretation. You're not going to see as many Pete's Dragon purists flaming the comments section below as you would in any Marvel Civil War scoop you'll see us run. So long as there's a kid, a dragon, and maybe a couple songs; Disney can do whatever they want. And what they want is to keep younger generations familiar with Robert Redford and his acting chops, which will do wonders for his back catalog when those kids get a little older. (Sneakers should be required viewing for any 10-year-old.)
Pete's Dragon looks to start shooting this fall in New Zealand, and is currently not scheduled for a release window. More than likely, this could take the November 2016 slot reserved for an unnamed Disney animation film.