Pinocchio might not be the first title that springs to mind when you think of properties that the film industry is likely to go mad for, but there have actually been three separate adaptations of Carlo Collodi’s children’s novel in the works over the past few years. Progress has been sedate on each of them – and in the case of The Three Misfortunes of Geppetto it seems to have stopped altogether – but Warner Bros’ live-action adaptation has managed to keep up a fairly healthy momentum – in large part thanks to Robert Downey Jr.’s desire to headline it.
Sadly, Downey will not be playing the title character of the film, but will instead play the friendly-but-lonely old woodcarver Mister Geppetto, who finds a talking block of pinewood and carves it into a little puppet boy. There’s been no news yet as to who will play Pinocchio, but there’s a pretty good chance that the character will be rendered in CGI (as opposed to simply taking a child actor and painting a wood effect on him).
It’s fairly common in Hollywood for vague buzz or rumors to turn into solid plans, and such seems to be the case with Downey’s comments at an Iron Man 3 promotional event, where he expressed a desire to collaborate with Ben Stiller once more. The pair worked together in the director-actor dynamic on Tropic Thunder, and the pairing proved to be a recipe for success. Now Deadline is reporting that Stiller is in talks with Warner Bros to direct Pinocchio. It’s all still unofficial, but apparently involves discussions with the film’s writers on the subject of freshening up the script.
The current incarnation of Pinocchio is the result of quite a few changes of hands and rewrites, and the way it ends up on screen will likely be quite different from the way it was originally conceived when Tim Burton was attached to direct. The first draft of the script was written by veteran TV showrunner Bryan Fuller, and has since undergone a rewrite by Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class screenwriter Jane Goldman.
To clarify, the live-action adventure with Downey is an entirely separate movie from Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion animated film based on Gris Grimly’s illustrated retelling, which seems to have stalled once more despite Grimly’s allusions to studios taking an interest in it. As such, even with the director role not yet secured, Downey will almost certainly be the next Geppetto to make it to the big screen.
Pinocchio doesn’t have a release date yet but we’ll keep you updated on Stiller’s potential status as director.