The Disney live-action remake train keep rolling along next weekend as Pete’s Dragon debuts in theaters. The Mouse Factory has found great success in the past couple of years taking their storied animated hits of decades past and repackaging and re-imagining them with real actors and tons of CG effects.
Pete’s Dragon, however, is a slightly different story. Unlike Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book (and next year’s Beauty and the Beast for that matter), the pic this is based on is not considered a classic. The Disney Dragon ‘toon opened in 1977 at a time when the studio was in a downturn in their animation department. It was only a mild box office performer and reviews weren’t too strong.
The fact that Disney has been on a roll lately should help Pete and his magical dragon change the narrative somewhat with this property. David Lowery (best known for directing the low budget indie drama Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) is behind the camera. Oakes Fegley plays the title character (the Pete part) while the dragon is handled by Weta Digital. Costars include Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Wes Bentley, and Karl Urban. Early reviews have been mostly positive with an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Let’s start here: this has no real chance of reaching the heights of the live action reboots before it. 2014’s Maleficent made $69 million for its start. Last year’s Cinderella earned $67 million. This spring’s The Jungle Book made $103 million. Dragon may be lucky to make half of any of those titles in its opening. Disney should be pretty happy if this manages to top $35 million, but my prediction reflects a belief that just over/under $30 million is the more likely scenario.
Pete’s Dragon opening weekend prediction: $29.8 million
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