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There was no red carpet for Tapanui's special preview screening of Pete's Dragon but the wealth of American flags which adorned the shops left no doubt about the warm welcome.
The town transformed into American logging town Millhaven for more than a month last year to shoot part of the Disney film and dozens of West Otago people were involved in the production.
Today was the first chance for the district to view the completed film, with two screenings at the West Otago Community Centre on August 13 as a "thank you'' to the community for hosting the film crew and production.
About 800 people attended the screenings and there was a ripple of excitement as the movie-goers spotted the familar locations and some familiar faces on screen.
West Otago Community Board chairwoman Barbara Hanna said it was "absolutely amazing" and others echoed her comments. The town was buzzing about the preview and the production team, who were special guests at the preview, said West Otago people made them feel like family.
The film stars Robert Redford, Bryce Dallas Howard, New Zealand actor Karl Urban and Wes Bentley as well as a giant furry green dragon. It opens on general release in New Zealand on September 15.
Tapanui West Otago Promotions chairman Horace McAuley said Pete's Dragon would be "huge" for New Zealand as well as for Tapanui. The scenery was part of the attraction and West Otago was proud to have payed a pivotal role in hosting the production, he said.