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Designing 'Pete's Dragon': See How Disney's Classic Creatures Influenced the Updated Elliot (and Happy Early World Dragon Day!)

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Disney knows dragons. From the terrifying, transformed Maleficent in 1959’s Sleeping Beauty right up to this summer’s rebooted Pete’s Dragon, the House of Mouse has been well stocked with the flame-breathing beasties.

Ahead of Saturday’s World Dragon Day (yes, that’s a thing), Yahoo Movies got an early, exclusive peek at how director David Lowery plumbed the Disney archives to inform his updated Elliot for Pete’s Dragon.

As you can see in the clip above from the upcoming Blu-ray/DVD release (more on that in a minute), Lowery name-checks the oldies (Sleeping Beauty, The Reluctant Dragon, and, of course, the 1977 incarnation of Pete’s Dragon) as inspirations for his creature, as well as more recent Disney movie monsters (the reptilian fauna of Mulan, Enchanted, Alice in Wonderland, and Maleficent) to come up with the perfect formula: “A dragon has to be a certain size and have certain dimensions,” explains Lowery. “It has to have a long tail. It has to have fangs. It has to have bat wings.

“Elliot is a dragon that will stand the test of time.”

Related: From ‘Pete’s’ to Re-‘Pete’s’: The Coolest Movie Dragons of the Past 40 Years

Before he found his ideal computer-animated Elliot, Lowery and the design team spent hours tweaking the look through several iterations. Below, get a look at previously unreleased concept art that shows various versions, from a stately, griffin-esque Elliot to the gentle green giant of the film.

(Photo: Disney)
(Photo: Disney)
(Photo: Disney)
(Photo: Disney)
(Photo: Disney)
(Photo: Disney)
(Photo: Disney)
(Photo: Disney)
(Photo: Disney)
(Photo: Disney)

Lowery’s Pete’s Dragon reimagines the 1977 Disney film, which featured Helen Reddy and the earworm “Candle on the Water” in a live-action/animated story of an orphaned boy and his dragon bestie.

Related: ‘Pete’s Dragon’ Director David Lowery on ‘Disney Music’ From the Lumineers, Will Oldham, and Lindsey Stirling

The new film, starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Karl Urban, and Oakes Fegley as Pete, will be available Nov. 29 on multiple formats, including Blu-ray, DVD, digital HD, on-demand, and Disney Movies Anywhere. In addition to the clip above, which is excerpted from an Elliot-centric featurette titled “Making Magic,” the bonus features on the Blu-ray and digital HD editions include: “Notes to Self: A Director’s Diary,” in which Lowery narrates the personal notes he kept during production; deleted scenes; bloopers; a travelogue of New Zealand, where the film was shot; the Lumineers’ “Nobody Knows” and Lindsey Stirling’s “Something Wild” music videos; and audio commentary from Lowery, co-writer Toby Halbrooks, and the film’s child stars Fegley and Oona Laurence.

‘Pete’s Dragon: Watch a trailer: