Issue date: 
Friday, 5 August 2016

The Hollywood premiere of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon on 8 August has provided another spectacular opportunity to showcase New Zealand as the ultimate film destination.

The reimagining of the Disney classic was filmed entirely in New Zealand, with all visual effects work carried out by WETA Digital in Wellington.

Disney’s Pete’s Dragon tells the story of an orphaned boy named Pete, and his best friend Elliot, who just happens to be a dragon.  Starring Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurasic World), Robert Redford (Captain America: Winter Soldier) native kiwi Karl Urban (Star Trek) and rising young star Oakes Fegley as Pete (This is Where I Leave You) the movie is the first feature film to secure the 5% uplift under the New Zealand Government’s film incentive programme.

Choosing New Zealand as a location was easy, according to President, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production Sean Bailey. “New Zealand was ideal for a number of reasons.  The scenery is unique, the crews are of the highest caliber, the New Zealand people are amazing, and the actors just love coming here.”

New Zealand Film Commission CEO Dave Gibson says collaborations with international productions increase New Zealand’s visibility as a screen production location while also providing major economic benefits and a big boost to the country’s thriving screen industry.  “The partnership with Disney’s Pete’s Dragon has created employment, export income, spill-over to the domestic creative industry and a platform to showcase New Zealand.”

New Zealand is the setting for Millhaven, a Pacific Northwest logging town, and Tapanui in West Otago, was transformed into Millhaven’s main street.  Other New Zealand locations featured include the Rotorua region, Wellington and Queenstown.

Film tourism is an important element in Tourism New Zealand’s work to inspire people to visit New Zealand, according to TNZ spokesman Rene de Monchy “We know from our highly successful work with Sir Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies that films can be a powerful influence on people choosing where they want to travel.”

Director and Co-writer, David Lowery says New Zealand was the perfect place to film Pete’s Dragon. “New Zealand has something magical about it, the extra layer of magic that we needed.  And I don't think we would have found that anywhere else.”

Disney’s Pete’s Dragon opens in the US on 12 August 2016 and opens in New Zealand on 15 September.

Last updated: 
Monday, 8 August 2016