Everything We Know About Disney's Live-Action Pinocchio So Far

If you listen closely, you can hear the distinct metallic sound of the Disney vault opening up once more to unleash one of its beloved classics back out into the world. For the last several years, Disney has split their interests between major franchises like "Star Wars" and the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the point that it's hard to remember a time where they weren't intertwined with the House of Mouse.

However, Disney still finds major success with its own original animated source material, and we're not talking about Pixar Animation. Instead, Disney has put a lot of their creative production efforts into taking animated classics like "Cinderella," "Beauty and the Beast," and "Aladdin" and creating live-action versions of the films. A few, like "Cruella," and "Maleficent," even branched out beyond their original stories to give an expanded story to their villains. 

This is a trend that isn't stopping any time soon. "The Little Mermaid" live-action is in production now, and by next fall, audiences will meet "Pinocchio" again, but this time with a star-studded cast. 

When and Where to Watch Pinocchio

Disney teased fans with the release of a new title card along with the news that "Pinocchio" will be released on the Disney+ streaming service in the fall of 2022. That release window is still a bit ambiguous, but we could see it being a November release similar to "Lady and the Tramp," which came to Disney+ in mid-November of 2019. Considering the cast, which we'll get to that below, we wouldn't be surprised if it's saved for the Thanksgiving holiday, a very popular time for major film releases.

What We Think Pinocchio is About

It doesn't take much to assume that "Pinocchio" the live-action film will be an adaptation of the animated "Pinocchio" film Disney released in 1940, which is itself an adaptation of the Italian children's story "The Adventures of Pinocchio," by Carlo Collodi. In it, a man named Geppetto creates a puppet named Pinocchio that looks like a boy. A magical fairy brings the puppet to life and promises to make him into a real boy. However, the only way to do that is for Pinocchio to show strength of character to earn his humanity. 

Honestly, looking back, that's a lot of pressure to put on a little puppet boy. 

Pinocchio is guided by Jiminy Cricket, a top-hatted cricket who acts as a moral compass as Pinocchio tries to navigate the complicated world in his quest. Pinocchio also has one more challenge to overcome: his nose grows longer every time he lies. 

Like most Disney films, "Pinocchio" was a musical, bringing us classics such as the lullaby "When You Wish Upon a Star" and the earworm that is "I've Got No Strings." But for songs like those, you're going to need one heck of a cast to pull them off. Speaking of which...

What We Know About the Pinocchio Cast and Crew

In the role of the woodcarver Geppetto, Disney has snagged Tom Hanks. We think this is a major sign that the film will heavily feature Geppetto more than the animated film. If you have Tom Hanks around, you've got to take advantage. Hanks will be reunited with director Robert Zemeckis ("Back to the Future"), having previously collaborated on such hits as "Cast Away" and "Forest Gump," as well as the motion-capture holiday adaptation "The Polar Express."

In the role of Pinocchio, fans of Netflix's "The Haunting of Bly Manor" will recognize young actor Benjamin Evan Ainsworth (seen above) in the role of the titular puppet. He was really able to hold his own alongside his adult castmates as Miles in "Bly Manor," so this looks to be a solid choice.

The Blue Fairy will be played by Cynthia Erivo ("Harriet"), star of the stage and screen who won a Tony for her role in the musical adaptation of "The Color Purple." Joseph Gordon Levitt ("Looper") will lend his voice to the character of Jiminy Cricket. Other voices will include Keegan-Michael Key ("Key & Peele) as Honest John and Lorraine Bracco ("Rizzoli & Isles) as Sofia the Seagull, a character created specifically for this adaptation.

Luke Evans, who played Gaston in 2017's "Beauty and the Beast," (the best part of that movie) returns to Disney as another live-action musical villain, The Coachman. Evans is great at combining charm with a sinister edge, which will be necessary for are role like The Coachman. He's one dastardly character, enticing young boys to join him for adventure, only for them to end up magically transformed into donkeys and turned into slaves. Yikes.

This is an exciting cast overall, with each star fully equipped to bring these cherished characters to life. 

The live-action "Pinocchio" is written by Zemeckis and Chris Weitz, who also wrote 2015's "Cinderella" adaptation. Of the Disney live-action remakes, "Cinderella" was probably the one that managed to feel the freshest without deviating too much from its source. Disney remakes have had lukewarm reactions over the years. Some are so similar to the originals that we've wondered why they were adapted at all. 

But not every Disney live-action film gets Tom Hanks to join them. We're crossing our fingers and puppet strings for "Pinocchio" to learn from its predecessors, and from Pinocchio himself. If a wee puppet lad can turn into a real boy by being "brave, truthful, and unselfish," maybe Disney's live-action adaptation can find a beating heart within its source and not end up lifeless and wooden.