EXCLUSIVE: I didn’t see this one coming. After directing one of the most talked-about films at Sundance Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, David Lowery has hired on with writing partner Toby Halbrooks to script Pete’s Dragon for Disney and producer Jim Whitaker. I’m told they will reinvent the core story of a venerable Disney family film. It will not be a musical and at this point Lowery is just engaged as writer. The original 1977 Pete’s Dragon mixed an animated fire-breather with a live-action cast of actors that included Mickey Rooney, Red Buttons, Shelley Winters, Helen Reddy and Jim Dale, with Sean Marshall playing the orphan boy who comes to a town with his magical dragon, his abusive adoptive parents in hot pursuit.
It is certainly a departure for Lowery, who made the jump from editor to director on Saints, a gritty drama he wrote and directed that stars Rooney Mara, Rami Malek, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster. It’s the tale of an outlaw who escapes prison and sets across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met. The film was acquired by IFC, which will release the pic August 16. He made a small feature called St. Nick, about runaway children who have to fend for themselves in the wild, so he has explored themes of innocence and magical realism. And he and Halbrooks made the Sundance short Pioneer, which was essentially an epic bedtime story.
Lowery’s repped by WME.
If the Sundance Film Festival is about anything, it’s about the directors. Careers are made in Park City with the right combination of talent, content, context and reception. Look at what happened in 2012 with Beasts Of The Southern Wild. Benh Zeitlin’s feature directorial debut seemed to come out of nowhere to win the festival’s Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic films. Now the fantasy drama is nominated for multiple Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. No predictions of course, but here’s five directors worth watching at Sundance this year.
Related: Mike Fleming’s Sundance 2013 Preview
David Lowery, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints: Lowery is actually a triple threat this Sundance. The Texan has the outlaw Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck starrer, which he directed and wrote, at the festival; Pit Stop, which he co-wrote, in the NEXT sidebar; and Upstream Color, on which he was one of the editors. Not bad for a guy who’s directorial feature debut St. Nick got rejected by Sundance back in 2009. Then again, Lowery’s short Pioneer won the Grand Jury Prize in 2011, so 2013 could really be his year.
Lake Bell, In A World…: The UTA-repped actress made her Sundance debut back in 2011 with her short Worst Enemy. This year she’s back and bigger and in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. Bell, who has been a regular on shows such as Adult Swim’s Children’s Hospital, HBO’s How To Make It In America and Boston Legal, directed, wrote, co-produced and stars in the comedy about a stymied vocal coach. In this age, that’s a noise worth listening to. Read More »
WME has signed a trio of aspiring directors who emerged from the Sundance Labs program last January. All of them will be shooting features this year.
David Lowery, who wrote/directed Pioneers, a short that won the Grand Jury Award at SXSW … Read More »
BREAKING: David Lowery has written and will direct Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, a contemporary story in the vein of Bonnie And Clyde, with Rooney Mara, Ben Foster and Casey Affleck attached to star. Lowery wrote … Read More »