Pete's Dragon


2h 7m 1977
Pete's Dragon

Brief Synopsis

A boy leaves his abusive foster family and becomes friends with a dragon.

Film Details

Also Known As
Peter och draken Elliott
Genre
Family
Fantasy
Release Date
1977
Production Company
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Distribution Company
Walt Disney Studios Distribution; Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 7m
Sound
Dolby
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1

Synopsis

Pete, a lonely orphaned boy, leaves his abusive foster family and arrives in a small fishing village in Maine where he is befriended by a dragon named Elliott. Because Elliott is invisible to everyone except Pete, the boy is thought to be a little strange, but he eventually finds happiness in a new family.

Crew

Martin Allen

Choreography

David Baker

Choreography (Dance Arranger)

John Bloss

Production Manager

Don Bluth

Animation Director

Gordon D Brenner

Editor

Randy Cartwright

Character Animator

Ron Clements

Character Animator

Jerome Courtland

Producer

Raymond Craddock

Sound Editor

Art Cruickshank

Special Effects

Harrison Ellenshaw

Matte Painter

S. S. Field

From Story

S. S. Field

Story By

Gary Goldman

Animator

Ronald R Grow

Assistant Director

Lucien M Hafley

Set Decorator

Bill Hajee

Character Animator

Chuck Harvey

Character Animator

Joel Hirschhorn

Lyrics ("Candle On The Water")

Joel Hirschhorn

Music Producer

Joel Hirschhorn

Song

Joel Hirschhorn

Music Supervisor

Al Kasha

Music Producer

Al Kasha

Song

Al Kasha

Lyrics ("Candle On The Water")

Al Kasha

Music Supervisor

Glen Keane

Character Animator

Irwin Kostal

Music Director

Irwin Kostal

Music Supervisor

Irwin Kostal

Other

Dorse A Lanpher

Effects Animator

Danny Lee

Special Effects

Eustace Lycett

Special Effects

John Mansbridge

Art Direction

Malcolm Marmorstein

Assistant Director

Malcolm Marmorstein

Screenwriter

James Melton

Editor (Animation)

Ron Miller

Producer

Seton I. Miller

Story By

Seton I. Miller

From Story

John Moio

Stunt Coordinator

Cliff Nordberg

Character Animator

Frank Phillips

Director Of Photography

Frank Phillips

Dp/Cinematographer

John M Poer

Assistant Director

John Pomeroy

Character Animator

Frank C Regula

Sound Recording Mixer

Robert J. Schiffer

Makeup

Christopher Seiter

Unit Production Manager

Jack Martin Smith

Art Direction

Herb Taylor

Sound Supervisor

Bill Thomas

Costumes

Onna White

Choreography

Chuck Williams

Animation Supervisor Assistant

Film Details

Also Known As
Peter och draken Elliott
Genre
Family
Fantasy
Release Date
1977
Production Company
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Distribution Company
Walt Disney Studios Distribution; Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 7m
Sound
Dolby
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Score

1977

Best Song

1977

Articles

Pete's Dragon


This combination live-action and animated musical fantasy-comedy from Disney was adapted from an unpublished short story by an improbable source, Seton I. Miller, writer of many gritty dramas for Warner Brothers tough guys James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, and John Garfield. He also wrote dialogue for such decidedly non-Disney pictures as the original Scarface (1932) and Marked Woman (1937), starring Bette Davis in a story based on the bust of a notorious real-life prostitution ring.

Still, Miller had a keen sense for rousing boyhood adventure, displayed in his screenplays for the swashbucklers The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), The Sea Hawk (1940), and The Black Swan (1942). That sensibility comes to play in this story of a nine-year-old orphan who runs away from his brutal adoptive home with his protective "imaginary" friend Elliott, in reality a friendly green dragon who only sporadically reveals himself to anyone other than the boy. When the dragon's existence becomes more widely known, Pete must protect him from angry townspeople and a shifty snake oil salesman while fending off the evil Gogan family who adopted him. The two get involved in a number of adventures and Elliott becomes a hero in the town.

Disney bought Miller's story in the 1950s with the intention of using it for the company's anthology television series. It was eventually produced as this feature with a $10 million budget starring Shelley Winters, Mickey Rooney, Red Buttons, Jim Dale, and pop singer Helen "I Am Woman" Reddy. It was fairly successful on its release, grossing about $39 million at the box office, but became an even bigger hit on video when it was discovered by kids in the 1980s.

The story is set in turn-of-the-20th-century coastal Maine, much of it in the lighthouse kept by Rooney and Reddy. That structure was built for the production on Point Buchon Trail near Los Osos, California. The lighthouse had such a large beacon for filming purposes that, in order not to mislead passing ships, Disney had to apply to the Coast Guard for special permission to operate it. Although the lighthouse is gone now, hikers along the beautiful scenic Port Buchon Trail can still visit the spot where filming took place.

Reviews were somewhat mixed, but the music garnered nominations from the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes as well as nominations by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films for best fantasy film, supporting actor (Buttons), and costumes.

The Oscar-nominated song, "Candle on the Water," reached #27 on the Adult Contemporary charts in a revised version recorded by Reddy.

From the standpoint of Disney studio history, Pete's Dragon is notable for being the first animated picture by the company not done by Disney's legendary original animation team, known as the Nine Old Men. It was entrusted instead to a large team headed by Don Bluth, later director of the animated films The Secret of NIMH (1982), An American Tail (1986), and Anastasia (1997).

The combination of live action and cartoon was achieved by the use of the sodium vapor process, aka yellowscreen, similar to today's chroma key or greenscreen compositing technique. The studio first used yellowscreen to similar effect in Mary Poppins (1964).

Elliott was given a high degree of lovability by being fashioned after the more benevolent Asian dragon image rather than the menacing European fire breathers (although Elliott does have one humorous moment of inadvertent flaming belching). The animators also decided to inject a touch of goofiness into the character by making him a little paunchy and not always very graceful when flying.

Disney revived the story, albeit much changed and presented as a straight fantasy-adventure drama. It was filmed in New Zealand and released in 2016 starring Robert Redford, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Wes Bentley, plus a lovable CGI beast.

Director: Don Chaffey
Producers: Jerome Courtland, Ron Miller
Screenplay: Malcolm Marmorstein, based on a story by Seton I. Miller and S.S. Field
Cinematography: Frank Phillips
Editing: Gordon D. Brenner
Art Direction: John B. Mansbridge, Jack Martin Smith
Animation Director: Don Bluth
Music Score: Irwin Kostal
Songs: Joel Hirschhorn and Al Kasha
Cast: Sean Marshall (Pete), Helen Reddy (Nora), Jim Dale (Dr. Terminus), Mickey Rooney (Lampie), Red Buttons (Hoagy), Shelley Winters (Lena Gogan)

By Rob Nixon
Pete's Dragon

Pete's Dragon

This combination live-action and animated musical fantasy-comedy from Disney was adapted from an unpublished short story by an improbable source, Seton I. Miller, writer of many gritty dramas for Warner Brothers tough guys James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, and John Garfield. He also wrote dialogue for such decidedly non-Disney pictures as the original Scarface (1932) and Marked Woman (1937), starring Bette Davis in a story based on the bust of a notorious real-life prostitution ring. Still, Miller had a keen sense for rousing boyhood adventure, displayed in his screenplays for the swashbucklers The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), The Sea Hawk (1940), and The Black Swan (1942). That sensibility comes to play in this story of a nine-year-old orphan who runs away from his brutal adoptive home with his protective "imaginary" friend Elliott, in reality a friendly green dragon who only sporadically reveals himself to anyone other than the boy. When the dragon's existence becomes more widely known, Pete must protect him from angry townspeople and a shifty snake oil salesman while fending off the evil Gogan family who adopted him. The two get involved in a number of adventures and Elliott becomes a hero in the town. Disney bought Miller's story in the 1950s with the intention of using it for the company's anthology television series. It was eventually produced as this feature with a $10 million budget starring Shelley Winters, Mickey Rooney, Red Buttons, Jim Dale, and pop singer Helen "I Am Woman" Reddy. It was fairly successful on its release, grossing about $39 million at the box office, but became an even bigger hit on video when it was discovered by kids in the 1980s. The story is set in turn-of-the-20th-century coastal Maine, much of it in the lighthouse kept by Rooney and Reddy. That structure was built for the production on Point Buchon Trail near Los Osos, California. The lighthouse had such a large beacon for filming purposes that, in order not to mislead passing ships, Disney had to apply to the Coast Guard for special permission to operate it. Although the lighthouse is gone now, hikers along the beautiful scenic Port Buchon Trail can still visit the spot where filming took place. Reviews were somewhat mixed, but the music garnered nominations from the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes as well as nominations by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films for best fantasy film, supporting actor (Buttons), and costumes. The Oscar-nominated song, "Candle on the Water," reached #27 on the Adult Contemporary charts in a revised version recorded by Reddy. From the standpoint of Disney studio history, Pete's Dragon is notable for being the first animated picture by the company not done by Disney's legendary original animation team, known as the Nine Old Men. It was entrusted instead to a large team headed by Don Bluth, later director of the animated films The Secret of NIMH (1982), An American Tail (1986), and Anastasia (1997). The combination of live action and cartoon was achieved by the use of the sodium vapor process, aka yellowscreen, similar to today's chroma key or greenscreen compositing technique. The studio first used yellowscreen to similar effect in Mary Poppins (1964). Elliott was given a high degree of lovability by being fashioned after the more benevolent Asian dragon image rather than the menacing European fire breathers (although Elliott does have one humorous moment of inadvertent flaming belching). The animators also decided to inject a touch of goofiness into the character by making him a little paunchy and not always very graceful when flying. Disney revived the story, albeit much changed and presented as a straight fantasy-adventure drama. It was filmed in New Zealand and released in 2016 starring Robert Redford, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Wes Bentley, plus a lovable CGI beast. Director: Don Chaffey Producers: Jerome Courtland, Ron Miller Screenplay: Malcolm Marmorstein, based on a story by Seton I. Miller and S.S. Field Cinematography: Frank Phillips Editing: Gordon D. Brenner Art Direction: John B. Mansbridge, Jack Martin Smith Animation Director: Don Bluth Music Score: Irwin Kostal Songs: Joel Hirschhorn and Al Kasha Cast: Sean Marshall (Pete), Helen Reddy (Nora), Jim Dale (Dr. Terminus), Mickey Rooney (Lampie), Red Buttons (Hoagy), Shelley Winters (Lena Gogan) By Rob Nixon

Quotes

I hate Pa--pa--Pastahazootie, or whatever the name of this town is.
- Dr. Terminus
Quaddy.
- Hoagy
Yeah. I don't want to cure anybody here. They all deserve to have whatever they have.
- Dr. Terminus
Well if there's enough room for a chowder-head like you, then there is more than enough room for a dragon.
- Nora
Why do I hear a bell ringing?
- Dr. Terminus
School must be out.
- Hoagy
It's too early, stupid.
- Dr. Terminus

Trivia

There were plans to move the lighthouse, specially constructed for the film, to the Disneyland theme park. Unfortunately, the building had deteriorated beyond repair before this could be done.

The studio needed special permission from the Coast Guard to use the authentic lighthouse seen in the film.

Originally intended as a live action/animation film to match the success of Mary Poppins (1964).

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1977

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1977