Pinocchio director

Over the past ten years, many filmmakers have tried and failed to direct a new version of Pinocchio. Guillermo del Toro is finally getting his stop-motion Pinocchio passion project made at Netflix, and Disney is primed to bring the character back in live-action like the other remakes of their animated catalogue. But a new update from the Disney movie’s would-be cinematographer suggests that version, which might have starred Tom Hanks as Geppetto, may have now lost Paddington director Paul King, who was hired last year.

In an interview with DiscussingFilm (via Collider), cinematographer Seamus McGarvey broke the news that King is no longer involved:

“I don’t think it’s a secret anymore, but the film has been cancelled over the holidays, over Christmas. The director basically pulled out of the film for family reasons. Disney are trying to find a new director…they’re trying to get it going, but I’m unlikely to be involved now, because Paul King, who directed Paddington 1 and 2, wanted me to be his DP on the film. Who knows the director that they eventually bring on? It probably will be delayed for some time now, it probably won’t shoot until July or August, if it does at all. Who knows if a new director – they’ll probably have their own DP that they’ll want to use. So currently I’m looking for another film.”

Disney has been developing this live-action remake since 2015, and if it’s true that King has left the project (which it sounds like it is), he’ll be the second director to walk away from it. Sam Mendes (Skyfall) was initially attached, but left in late 2017. Here’s hoping this frees King up to return to the director’s chair for Paddington 3.

A new Pinocchio movie has been one of Hollywood’s collective obsessions over the past decade. Guillermo del Toro spent years developing a version before Netflix finally gave him the funding after his Oscar win for The Shape of Water. In 2012, Tim Burton was brought on to direct a live-action version of the story for Warner Bros. with Robert Downey Jr. attached to star. But it couldn’t get moving: Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones spin-off) rewrote the script, Burton left, Downey suggested his Tropic Thunder helmer Ben Stiller as a replacement director, and around this time there was talk that Downey might play both Geppetto and Pinocchio (yes, really). By 2015, Downey’s pal Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread) was hired to write a draft and maybe even direct, but that version never happened, either.

Will Disney end up reworking this project into a lower-budget feature for the Disney+ streaming service, or will they find another major director to bring it to theatrical audiences? It seems unlikely they’d abandon it altogether, so I expect we’ll hear more about this soon.

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