Paul Thomas Anderson to Write and Maybe Direct Live-Action Pinocchio

By  · Published on July 1st, 2015

Columbia Pictures

No, this isn’t April Fool’s Day.

One of the most annoying things about Disney’s current trend toward doing live-action remakes of their animated classics is the fact that other studios are also doing their own adaptations of a lot of the same material. So, we’re getting two performance-capture “Jungle Book” features, for instance.

Sometimes it’s enough for Disney to throw in the towel, as they did when two other “Snow White” movies (Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman) hogged the fairy tale. The competition can be quite confusing, even leading many sites to erroneously report recently that the “Little Mermaid” movie Sofia Coppola had been set to direct was one of Disney’s efforts.

Another confusing duel is with plans for live-action “Pinocchio” movies. Earlier this year, Disney announced one, albeit a loose retelling rather than a straight redo of their 1940 animated take on the Carlo Collodi novel. Already there was an adaptation set up at Warner Bros. with Robert Downey Jr. (as Gepetto, not Pinocchio), which once had Tim Burton set as director (he is now set to do a live-action Dumbo for Disney).

This other version is still moving forward with RDJ, and now Burton’s place will possibly be filled by Paul Thomas Anderson, of all people. According to The Hollywood Reporter, PTA will write the next draft of the script (taking over from The Giver scribe Michael Mitnick and before him Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller) “with an eye toward directing.”

I guess the filmmaker has sort of done fairy tales of his own devise over the years. Boogie Nights is mostly a “Cinderella” story but it’s also like “Pinocchio” where a boy made from his (ahem) wood never returns from Pleasure Island. Actually, PTA is typically interested in puppet-tempting pleasures, such as gambling, pornography and cults. His last movie even had the word vice in the title.

It’s not that crazy that there are at least two “Pinocchio” movies in the works – plus a third, maybe, if Guillermo del Toro’s darker stop-motion take with the Jim Henson Company is still happening. Collodi’s story is directly and indirectly retold over and over and over already, seemingly at least once per year. This year’s, for example, will be a Czech production. Not to mention the RDJ-led, Disney-distirbuted Avengers: Age of Ultron was loosely inspired by the tale, too.

As if PTA needed any help, I offer up for his assistance Scott’s guide to How to Make a “Pinocchio” Movie That Doesn’t Suck posted back when Warner Bros. first announced the project in 2010.

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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.