Shauni James is a Rotorua Daily Post reporter

Excitement at Pete's Dragon screening (+ video)

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A special group of locals have walked the red carpet and become some of the first in the world to see new Disney movie Pete's Dragon.

And it wasn't just your average night at the movies for this lot - who would have been eagerly straining to catch a glimpse of themselves.

A "give-back" screening of the film was held at Reading Cinemas in Rotorua tonight to recognise and thank the locals who played a part in the making of the movie.

It took place four days after the Los Angeles premiere and more than a month before it opens across the country.

The major film, a remake of the 1977 movie, was filmed in New Zealand, including in Ngongotaha, Tokoroa and Kinleith Forest.

Scenes which involved Hollywood actors Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard were shot in Ngongotaha over three days in March last year.

The screening was strictly invitation only, with the movie not released in New Zealand until September 15.

Rotorua's Sherridan Dixon was an extra in Pete's Dragon, playing both a lumberjack and being part of a 'posse' which chased the dragon.

He said it would be "pretty cool" to see the movie on the big screen.

"The kids are more excited than I am.

"There was heaps of extras, hopefully we can pick me out."

Mr Dixon said it was "really just great fun being involved with something like that".

He thought the movie was "brilliant" because it showcased New Zealand and its scenery to the world.

"Some of the best scenery in the world is in New Zealand, I think."

Whakatane's Barry Caulfield, who lived in Rotorua from 1964 to 1990, brought his truck to the screening. Both the truck and he were in the film.

Mr Caulfield said he was involved with aspects of the movie for 14 months - providing trucks, helping set up and move heavy machinery, and playing the part of a truck driver in the film.

He said it was a great experience and that every day was a 12 hour day - "those guys work hard".

Mr Caulfield said it was "pretty great" to be there for the screening.

"When you have so much to do with it you've sort of got an emotional tie with it, so it's great."

He said everyone he had spoken to that had a part in the film, no matter how small, had felt special.

Tokoroa's Henry Clothier, whose industrial buildings were used for filming, said the film makers and cast were all wonderful to work with, and very kind.

He said it would be interesting to see how it turned out as they built props in their warehouses.

Bay of Plenty Film president Anton Steel has previously said it was great to see films such as Pete's Dragon being filmed in the Bay of Plenty.

"It is fantastic to see a film shot in our own backyard screened here."

Pete's Dragon is about the adventure of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend, Elliott, who happens to be a dragon.

The film was 100 per cent filmed in New Zealand with more than 1000 crew and a cast of 40, including 31 New Zealanders.

Filming in the Rotorua and Tokoroa areas took about 4 and a half weeks. During the time the cast and crew were largely based in Rotorua.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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