Oscar-winner Robert Zemeckis has entered talks to direct Disney's live-action Pinocchio remake. Save for Tim Burton's Dumbo, just about every one of the Mouse House's live-action or CG retellings of its animated classics so far has been a huge commercial success. Aladdin and The Lion King both topped $1 billion this year alone, as did Beauty and the Beast in 2017 and (very nearly) The Jungle Book before them. As such, it's no surprise that Disney has turned its eye to re-imaginging some of its older animated features next, including its 1940 adaptation of Carlo Collodi's story Pinocchio.
The live-action Pinocchio was originally expected to begin filming this year, with Paul King (Paddington 1 & 2) directing from a script by Chris Weitz (who also cowrote Disney's live-action Cinderella). However, back in January, King stepped down for reasons that were never reported on, and the film's been on hold ever since. However, it looks like the famous wooden boy may be on his way to becoming a real-life person once again.
According to Variety, Zemeckis is now in early discussions to direct Pinocchio for Disney. The filmmaker has apparently been eyeing the project since this summer, but was still in-production on Warner Bros.' new adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's horror novel The Witches at the time (ahead of its scheduled release in 2020), and wanted to finish filming before he signed on for his next movie.
The Back to the Future 1-3, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Forrest Gump director is far from a stranger to literary adaptations like Pinocchio, having previously brought stories like The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol to the big screen during his motion-capture moviemaking phase in the 2000s. Disney's Pinocchio remake, unlike those films, will combine live-action with animation (computer animation, to be specific), which, of course, is also something that Zemeckis has done all too well in the past. Assuming he signs on, it seems the plan is for Zemeckis to begin production sometime in 2020 (even as Netflix and Guillermo del Toro press on with their stop-motion take on Pinocchio for release in the next couple years).
In the decade or so since his return to live-action directing, Zemeckis has focused on making dramas either intended for older audiences (Flight, Allied) and/or based on real-life events (The Walk, Welcome to Marwen), while at the same time still tinkering with filmmaking technology like 3D and, yes, motion-capture. However, after Marwen bombed at the box office last year, he seems to have started moving back to four-quadrant crowd pleasers again, beginning with The Witch and, possibly, continuing with Pinocchio. Disney's live-action remakes to date has tended to be faithful to a fault, so it'll be interesting to see if someone like Zemeckis - again, should he sign on - can mix things up a little more with a fresh spin on this particular fairy tale.