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Hollywood is constantly on a cycle of producing new remakes and sequels, and when a filmmaker is brought aboard to helm these projects, the assumption at large is that they go back and revisit the original to help inform their vision for the update. In the case of David Lowery, however, this wasn't the case. When the filmmaker got the job to direct the new, upcoming take on Pete's Dragon, he actually made a point of not rewatching the classic from 1977 -- basically because he knew that the movie he wanted to make wasn't going to be a straight remake.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with David Lowery earlier this month after a special presentation for the new Pete's Dragon in Los Angeles, and one of the most interesting things we touched on in our conversation was the fact that the filmmaker decided against rewatching the Don Chaffey-directed musical from 1977. Noting that the new movie really only has loose ties to the original, I asked Lowery what his relationship to it was in the making of his film, and he explained that it was his decision to really not pay it any attention. Said the director,
Watching the newly released trailer for David Lowery's Pete's Dragon compared to the original movie, it's pretty easy to see where the two features deviate. The 1977 version had Pete as a runaway orphan, who joins his dragon Elliott in trying to escape a horrible life of slave labor. He comes across a small town called Passamaquoddy and is taken in by a lighthouse keeper and her father, but must still contest with his terrible adoptive family and a doctor who wishes to harvest Elliott's organs. This is almost all different in Lowery's movie, where Pete isn't running away from an adoptive family -- he's been alone with Elliott in the woods for months -- and he winds up being taken in by a forest ranger and her dad. You can watch the preview for the new take below:
Discussing the making of Pete's Dragon further, David Lowery also noted that he actually enjoyed the freedom that came with not having to watch the 1977 film -- partially because it represented in a strange way the certain lack of pressure that existed putting together the remake. While the filmmaker certainly recognizes that there is a good amount of love for the original movie, it's also not quite held in the same regard as some other Disney classics of that era:
If you care to revisit the original Pete's Dragon yourself, as the 1977 movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD, as well as in digital formats. If you're going to wait for David Lowery's version of the family adventure, however, the good news is that the delay won't be long, as the new film will be in theaters on August 12th. In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned for more from our interview with David Lowery, as well as Pete's Dragon star Bryce Dallas Howard!