A Disney+ Original movie, “Peter Pan & Wendy” is a live-action reimagining of the J.M. Barrie novel and the 1953 animated classic, directed by David Lowery (“The Green Knight,” “Pete’s Dragon”), which begins streaming April 28, 2023, only on Disney+.
On Monday, April 24th, the St. John’s Scotiabank Theatre hosted a special screening event of Disney’s “Peter Pan & Wendy.”
Along with some major news outlets, the Muse had the opportunity to get some pre-screening remarks from guests, including Premier Andrew Furey, Mark Sexton (Chair of the Board, Newfoundland Film Development Corporation), and Jim Whitaker (Producer of “Peter Pan & Wendy”).
The background to the carpet read both “Peter Pan & Wendy” and “Filmed in Newfoundland and Labrador,” the perfect backdrop to a momentous occasion for film in our province.
It was first announced in 2021 that Disney would be shooting a portion of the Live-Action film here in NL. With growing anticipation, many Newfoundlanders have been eager to see how the province’s landscape will be transformed as part of Peter Pan’s Neverland. After seeing images of the beautiful NL scenery, the film’s production decided to look into shooting here.
“There’s giant cliffs and oceans to go for miles, and the little pebbled beaches were amazing, and the breath of the land was just incredible, right? So we were able to see that we could use lots of different parts of it for the making of Neverland,” said Jim Whitaker, describing the qualities that drew them to the island. “There was no doubt once we arrived here that this was gonna be the place for us,” he continued.
Newfoundland will also reap numerous benefits from the buzz surrounding this film. More specifically, “Peter Pan and Wendy” will have an incredibly positive impact on the development of the NL film community.
Mark Sexton, the Chair of the Board of the Newfoundland Film Development Corporation (NFDC), was able to elaborate on these benefits, explaining that, “It’s twofold, it would be the direct economic benefit. The production invested a lot of money in the province in a short period of time, so everything from services, goods, hiring people, those are the types of things that were a direct benefit. Then the longer term benefit is if Disney can come here and have a successful production and good experience then others will follow.”
He explaining how the current global demand for content has also created an opportunity for our province. Outside companies, like Disney, will be on the lookout for new places to shoot their films, and “Peter Pan & Wendy” has demonstrated our province’s ability to bring in these large projects and service them.
“It didn’t get real until November 2021,” continued Sexton, “when the producer and about seven people (senior people) from the project came here and started scouting locations.”
He explained that, “When [Disney] came calling, [the NFDC] just did what we always do and provided all the information they were looking for, a lot of location photos.”
It’s very exciting. Projects like these will further the development of an already growing industry within our province. When the Newfoundland Film Development Corporation first became aware that Disney was interested in filming in NL, Sexton said, “[They] were thrilled. It’s something that [they] were involved with for many years, bringing productions here, but Disney is a special company.”
Premier Andrew Furey stated that not only will this film continue to draw people to our province, but that this may not be the last time we see Disney bring its magic to NL.
“Frankly, the feedback that I got from Mr. Whitaker and the Disney gang was that the people here were just so good to work with,” said Furey, “they were so talented, and they believe in the industry here.”
The Premier recounted one of his first interactions with Jim Whitaker, saying, “The first conversation I had with Jim was that we don’t want this to be a one-off, and he said absolutely, that’s not the way Disney works, we want to come here and support the industry and grow it so that more big productions come to Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Disney’s “Peter Pan & Wendy” is streaming on Disney+ starting this Friday, April 28th. Make sure you check it out for the chance to see our beautiful province transformed into the fantastical world of Neverland!