No Lie: Now Disney is Doing a Live-Action Pinocchio

By  · Published on April 8th, 2015

Walt Disney Studios

Someone throw some strings on Disney and hold them down before they blow their whole load too soon. The studio may have more than 50 animated features under their belt, enough for at least a half century’s worth of live-action remakes, but they’re announcing them at a very quick pace. In less time than two weeks, they’ve named Mulan and Winnie the Pooh to the docket that already includes Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book and Dumbo, and now, Deadline reports, Pinocchio has been added to the pile.

This one doesn’t sound as strange as some of the others, given that the Pinocchio story has been done in live-action form many times, starting with a 1911 silent Italian adaptation. Disney itself has previously tackled a live-action take on the Carlo Collodi children’s novel, too, with the 2000 TV movie Geppetto, starring Drew Carey in the title role. But the studio’s 1940 version remains the most beloved, partly because it’s the least creepy.

According to Deadline, this new version will be loosely based on the original source, Collodi’s “The Adventures of Pinocchio.” Interestingly enough, it’s being scripted by Peter Hedges, who penned the screenplay for and directed The Odd Life of Timothy Green, itself a live-action Disney movie about a child made of plant material who comes to life for a barren couple.

There’s really only one person I’d like to see direct a live-action Pinocchio movie for Disney, but it would never happen. The 1940 version is one of Terry Gilliam’s favorite movies of all time, and he’s paid homage to the story in The Fisher King. I think Johnny Depp would have to convince the producers and also Gilliam that it could be a magical collaboration. Depp would play Honest John, of course.

Another interestingly enough: Depp’s other, more Disney-friendly director buddy, Tim Burton, had recently been attached to a live-action Pinocchio for Warner Bros. with Robert Downey Jr. producing and cast as Geppetto. Meanwhile, there are other Pinocchio movies on the way, including a Czech live-action adaptation and a stop-motion version to be co-directed by Guillermo del Toro and Fantastic Mr. Fox animator Mark Gustafson.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.