‘Pete’s Dragon’: Then and Now

Ryan Aday
Movies Disney
Movies Disney

Disney is set to release the anticipated remake of Pete’s Dragon. While the basic premise remains the same, there are many important elements that will make them very different from each other. The original version was a half-animated musical about a boy raised by a vile foster family and befriended by a dragon. Whereas the new version is a live action adventure story about a young orphan who was raised by his dragon.

Pete’s Dragon Then

“Dragon whiskers, dragon toes, a dragon tooth and a dragon nose. Every little piece… we can make a million by slicing him, dicing him. Hoping we can sell every little shell, there’s enough of him to go around. Money, money, money by the pound.”

These words come from “Every Little Piece,” a number from Disney’s 1977 Pete’s Dragon. It was performed by Dr. Terminus and Hoagy, two con men who believe they will be rich selling dragon parts as medicine.

The original starred Helen Reddy as Nora, Sean Marshall as a 12-year old Pete, and Jim Dale as the evil Dr. Terminus. Shelly Winters played the head of the dreaded Gogans, the family that adopted Pete but treated him terribly. The musical score was known for catchy tunes, the most popular being “Brazzle Dazzle Day.”

Elliot, the green and pink cartoon dragon was large, but never truly menacing. Elliot took on the role of friend and bodyguard.

The original version of the film was a musical comedy with animation
The original version of the film was a musical comedy with animation.

Pete’s Dragon Now

It appears that both films share the same themes and follow a similar story. A young boy with no parents enters the life of a woman who has a heart for his cause. Against advice, she follows up and realizes that the boy is in trouble.

In this summer’s release, Oakes Fegley plays Pete, a young boy who has lived in the woods for six years. Bryce Dallas Howard plays Grace, the forest ranger who takes an interest in Pete’s situation. Karl Urban plays the film’s antagonist Gavin, a hunter who turns his sights to Elliot the dragon (voiced by John Kassir). A-lister Robert Redford also appears in the film as Grace’s father.

The comedy in the first film gives way to action in the second and the cartoon Elliot is replaced by a monstrous CGI dragon designed at Stone Street Studios.

As you can see from the trailer, the tone of the new release is very different.

The 2016 version of Elliot is a bit more intimidating
The 2016 version of Elliot is a bit more intimidating.

Pete’s Dragon (2016) flies into theaters on Aug. 12. Pete’s Dragon (1977) is available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Ryan Aday
Ryan is a former college athlete with a degree in Communication from Point Loma University. He is also a 5-time Game Show Contestant (Incl. Wheel of Fortune) and decorated fantasy football player (Fantasy Football Evolution National Champion Runner-Up). Mr. Aday is kind to animals.
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