Guillermo del Toro's stop-motion animated Pinocchio movie adaptation has officially landed at Netflix. The Oscar-winning filmmaker started developing the project back in 2011, but has struggled to gain the financing needed to actually start production since then. Between Disney moving forward on its own live-action Pinocchio retelling and del Toro having not really spoken about his animated take on Carlo Collodi's classic fairy tale in about a year, most of the director's fans had probably assumed the project was dead in the water, at this point.
That's all changed, now that Netflix has come aboard to back del Toro's fairy tale re-imagining. The project is based on a script that del Toro cowrote with Patrick McHale (Over the Garden Wall) and will be co-helmed by del Toro and Fantastic Mr. Fox animation director Mark Gustafson (as has been the plan for many years now). Pinocchio also marks the latest in a string of collaborations between Netflix and del Toro, following their efforts together on the animated fantasy adventure series Trollhunters and the upcoming horror anthology series, Guillermo del Toro Presents 10 After Midnight.
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Netflix announced the news about del Toro's Pinocchio via press release and further confirmed that the Jim Henson Company and ShadowMachine (BoJack Horseman) are co-producing the film. In addition to being a musical, del Toro's Pinocchio takes place in Italy under Benito Mussolini's fascist regime and was described as follows in the official statement that del Toro released, as part of Netflix's announcement:
“No art form has influenced my life and my work more than animation and no single character in history has had as deep of a personal connection to me as Pinocchio. In our story, Pinocchio is an innocent soul with an uncaring father who gets lost in a world he cannot comprehend. He embarks on an extraordinary journey that leaves him with a deep understanding of his father and the real world. I’ve wanted to make this movie for as long as I can remember.”
It now appears that Pinocchio will serve as del Toro's directorial followup to his Best Picture Oscar-winning historical horror-romance, The Shape of Water. The filmmaker is currently producing the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie (which he cowrote) and once had plans to begin shooting his Fantastic Voyage remake at the end of this year, but things have (obviously) changed since then. However, it's not clear yet if this means Fantastic Voyage has become the latest addition to the pile of lost del Toro movies or if the filmmaker has simply put that one on the back-burner, while he begins production on his longtime passion project this fall.
Either way, Pinocchio sounds like a perfect match for del Toro's storytelling sensibilities, between its themes about fascism (a recurring element of his work) and its generally dark fairy tale vibe. Fans have also gotten glimpses of the film's character designs by Guy Davis (a frequent del Toro collaborator) over the years and they vey much harken back to the creepier artwork that Gris Grimly fashioned for the illustrated 2000s edition of Collodi's story, in the best way possible. Indeed, given how visually gorgeous del Toro's live-action movies tend to be, one can only imagine the beautifully twisted imagery to come in his animated directorial debut.
We will bring you more details on Pinocchio as they become available.