Disney's live-action Pinocchio remake has nabbed Paddington director Paul King, with an eye toward starting production this fall. Skyfall director Sam Mendes originally signed on to direct Pinocchio but bailed on the project last year. Another live-action Pinocchio project was previously reported to be gearing up at Warner Bros. That version reportedly nabbed Ron Howard to direct with Robert Downey Jr. starring as Geppetto. But the project appears to have stalled out as there have been no updates in two years.
Pinocchio first appeared in the children's book The Adventures of Pinocchio, written by Carlo Collodi in 1883. But most people are familiar with Pinocchio thanks to Disney's 1940 animated classic. The story concerns a wood-carver named Geppetto who creates the puppet Pinocchio. A blue fairy gives the puppet life, telling him he can become a real boy if he proves himself worthy. The movie won an Oscar for its song "When You Wish Upon a Star," performed by Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket. Initially a box office bomb, Pinocchio later attained classic status. What's more, Pinocchio grossed $618 million domestically when adjusted for inflation. No wonder Disney wants to remake it.
THR reports that Disney has tapped Paddington director Paul King to bring their live action Pinocchio remake to life. Additionally, Wonder writer Jack Thorne will rewrite the script after Peter Hedges and Chris Weitz penned a previous draft. Weitz remains aboard as producer together with Andrew Miano.
Paul King has become one of the hottest directing names in Hollywood on the strength of his two Paddington films. Released in 2014, the first Paddington grossed $268 million worldwide on a reported $55 million budget. The sequel, Paddington 2, nearly found itself getting lost amid the tumult surrounding the Weinstein Company in the wake of sexual assault accusations against founder Harvey Weinstein. But Warner Bros. stepped in to acquire the film, releasing it in January as planned. Paddington 2 has grossed $213 million worldwide so far, while registering a perfect Rotten Tomatoes score. In addition to Pinocchio, director Paul King is slated to direct a new Willy Wonka movie for Warner Bros. Pictures.
With Pinocchio, Disney continues churning out live-action remakes of its most famous animated classics. The recent run of live-action do-overs kicked off with 2014's Maleficent (after first testing the waters with 2010's Alice in Wonderland), starring Angelina Jolie as the Sleeping Beauty villain. Then, 2015 saw the release of a live action Cinderella from Kenneth Branagh, followed by Jon Favreau's Jungle Book in 2016. But the high water mark for the live-action trend, at least in terms of box office success, came with last year's Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson. Bill Condon's version of the fairy tale grossed $1.2 billion worldwide, guaranteeing the live-action remake trend will continue for a long while.
Indeed, in addition to Pinocchio, Disney has a live-action Christopher Robin film coming up later this year. The studio also plans remakes of The Lion King, Dumbo and Aladdin. One might wish upon a star for Disney to try a little harder and come up with some original story ideas, but with the studio owning such a huge catalog of classics to exploit, don't look for that wish to come true any time soon.