Disney Pinocchio Remake

It’s been four years since Disney announced that Pinocchio would be getting the live-action remake treatment that the studio is obsessed with these days. Since then, directors like Sam Mendes (Skyfall) and Paul King (Paddington) have been linked to the project, but they both eventually fell away. Now Disney has lined up a new director, and this one has a hit or miss past with Disney.

Robert Zemeckis is now in early talks to direct Disney’s live-action Pinocchio, the story of a wooden puppet who magically comes to life and wishes to become a real boy. After the hellish and abysmal Welcome to Marwen, I’m not sure I want to see Zemeckis tackle a movie that has anything remotely resembling a doll or a puppet. But here we are.

Variety has word on Robert Zemeckis directing Pinocchio, but since he’s in early talks, there’s always a chance the project could fall away from him and into the hands of another filmmaker. Zemeckis has been keen on the project since this past summer, but he’s also currently at work on the remake of The Witches, and it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to finish that movie in time to properly tackle Pinocchio. Funnily enough, at one time, frequent Zemeckis collaborator Tom Hanks was linked to the role of Geppetto, but that’s no longer the case.

Last time Zemeckis played with the house of mouse it resulted in the weird, motion capture performance animation hybrid adaptation of A Christmas Carol, but way back in the director’s heydey, he gave Disney the classic, innovative wonder that was Who Framed Robert Rabbit. So it really is a toss up as to whether he can give us a Pinocchio remake worth seeing. But considering Zemeckis’ work on the big screen for the past decade and a half hasn’t been anything to write home about, our expectations are pretty low.

Andrew Miano and Chris Weitz will produce through their company Depth of Field, and the latter is also writing the script. As for the previously involved David Heyman, he’s no longer producing, presumably leaving after director Paul King stepped away from the project earlier this year.

This isn’t the first time a live-action Pinocchio has been attempted. Back in 1996 there was a decidedly weird and horrifying adaptation featuring Martin Landau as Geppetto, the puppetry of The Jim Henson Company, some embarrassing computer animation, and the voice of Jonathan Taylor Thomas as the titular puppet who becomes a real boy. The movie is so terrifying that How Did This Get Made? recently dedicated a live episode to it in Chicago, and I can tell you, it was hilarious (though the episode hasn’t been released yet).

Disney’s live-action remakes so far have been hits at the box office, but have mostly received lukewarm receptions. The studio has difficulty capturing the same magic that the original animated movies have when bringing the stories into the live-action world. We’re not sure how that will turn out with Pinocchio, but based on Zemeckis track record, he’ll probably have Jim Carrey play every single role on a motion capture stage.

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