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'Pan' movie trailer: Why producers and audiences keep returning to this story

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(Read caption) 'Pan' trailer

A new trailer has arrived for the movie “Pan.” 

Based on the classic story by writer J.M. Barrie, “Pan” stars actor Levi Miller as Peter, who in the film travels to Neverland for the first time in his memory. There he encounters the evil pirate Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman of “X-Men: Days of Future Past”), Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara of “Her”), and a young man named Hook (“Unbroken” actor Garrett Hedlund). According to Variety, the film, which was originally scheduled to be released this July, will now come out in October.

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There’s no doubt that “Peter Pan” is having a moment. The stage musical version of the story was selected as NBC’s live musical for last year's holiday season, with Allison Williams of “Girls” starring as the boy who wouldn’t grow up and Christopher Walken as Hook. Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s series about Peter before he was Pan was the basis of the Broadway musical “Peter and the Starcatcher,” which was nominated for multiple Tony Awards and won actor Christian Borle a Tony for his role as the man who became Hook. And the story of how Barrie came to pen the story of Peter was the basis of the Oscar-nominated 2004 movie “Finding Neverland,” which inspired the currently running Broadway musical of the same name. The musical “Neverland” stars “Glee” actor Matthew Morrison as Barrie and Kelsey Grammer as theater producer Charles Frohman.

Why are Broadway and Hollywood turning to the story? Fairy tale movies are currently big business. While the year is still young, the recent film version of “Cinderella” is currently the third-highest grossing film of 2015 so far. The eighth-highest grossing movie of 2014 was “Maleficent,” the film starring Angelina Jolie as the “Sleeping Beauty” villainess, and the twenty-third-highest was “Into the Woods,” the film version of the Stephen Sondheim musical that features such characters as Little Red Riding Hood, Jack of "Jack and the Beanstalk," and Cinderella. In 2012, “Snow White and the Huntsman” also did big business at the box office, as did 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland.” 

So it’s no mystery why executives want a new version of “Peter.” Why do audience members keep returning to him? Familiarity is one factor. If a person is looking for something to watch but can’t take a dark, challenging drama, a fairy tale movie is like comfort food. If it’s a parent looking for a movie to take their child to, even better – they know the “Pan” story and don’t have to spend time figuring out whether it’s appropriate for their child. 

In addition, the story has timeless messages. Everyone’s grown up and remembers leaving some childish things behind, and the ever-youthful Peter is a character people think of fondly.