Disney is moving forward with plans for another live-action retelling of a classic animated picture, as Sam Mendes enters talks to direct Pinocchio. The studio has had great success updating its classic animated movies. What began with Maleficent has led to The Jungle Book, Cinderella, and most recently Beauty and the Beast being not only well-received, but also performing extremely well at the box office.
The studio has continued to develop other animated tales in preparation for big-budget updates with The Lion King, Aladdin, Mulan, and Cruella all in various stages of development. And the studio's desire to get Pinocchio going has initiated talks with Mendes.
Deadline reports that Disney is in early talks with the director to helm a live-action version of the animated classic. The project has been in development since 2015, but it now appears Disney is ready to get the film rolling by attaching a big name director. Mendes has a varied background delivering award-winners like American Beauty, but also bigger blockbusters like Skyfall. There is no production window or release date set at this time.
If Disney secures a deal with the Academy Award-winner, Mendes will join the likes of Kenneth Branagh, Jon Favreau, and Bill Condon. The presence of Mendes will likely help attract more talent in front of the camera as well -- though the studio must contend with competition from other studios to make this film first.
Warner Bros. has spent a long time developing its Robert Downey Jr.-led version with Ron Howard set to direct, while Guillermo Del Toro has written his own version as well. Neither project has progressed much in terms of development. Should Disney's adaptation move ahead at a faster pace, it will be interesting to see where that leaves the other studios with regard to their slow-moving projects.
If Disney is interested in fast-tracking Pinocchio, however, Mendes’ current schedule could allow for the project to pick up steam quickly. The director just opened a play in England, but he has only one other film in development at the moment. Right now, it seems as though Disney is content to take its time in bringing Pinocchio to life. However, should the studio secure a name like Mendes, it may well push the project near the top of the Mouse House's To Do list.
Disney's Pinocchio is currently in development and does not have a release date.