Disney's live-action Pinocchio movie is searching for a new director tonight, after filmmaker Sam Mendes backs out. Director Sam Mendes entered talks for Pinocchio back in May, but nearly six months later, the filmmaker has exited the project, although no reason for his departure is given. There is no indication if the studio has any top contenders in mind to replace Sam Mendes, but this new report claims Disney shouldn't have too hard a time finding a replacement, given the success of similar live-action adaptations in recent years.
Disney has been able to lure top-notch directorial talent into its stable with their growing slate of live-action adaptations, including Jon Favreau taking the helm on last year's hit The Jungle Book, and Bill Condon directing this year's Beauty and the Beast, currently the highest-grossing movie of the year. Director Tim Burton is currently shooting Dumbo for the studio and Guy Ritchie is prepping the studio's live-action adaptation of Aladdin. Given how iconic the Pinocchio character is, it may not be long before the studio finds a new filmmaker to bring this Pinocchio live-action project back to life.
We first reported on this Pinocchio live-action movie back in April 2015, with Disney bringing aboard Peter Hedges (The Odd Life of Timothy Green) to write the screenplay. The latest version of the script was written by Chris Weitz (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), who is also producing through his Depth of Field company. No story details have been given at this time, and it remains unclear if this new version will be faithful to the original source material, or any of the other adaptations spawned from it, of which there were many.
The Pinocchio story dates all the way back to Carlo Collodi's 1883 novel The Adventures of Pinocchio, following a boy made out of wood, who ultimately gets his wish to become a real human, but each time he tells a lie, his nose grows longer and longer. The Italian novel was first translated into English back in 1904, and there was also a 1911 Pinocchio Italian live-action short film that was the first adaptation of the character, and a 1939 Russian movie called The Golden Key, which employed a mixture of stop-motion animation and live-action. The Disney movie made several changes to the original story, with Pinocchio portrayed as more of a mischief-maker than a character with more nefarious intentions, as he was portrayed in the original book.
This news actually comes just a few days after we reported that Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio, which was set up at The Jim Henson Company for years, is now officially dead. There was also a Warner Bros. Pinocchio project that Robert Downey Jr. was planning on starring in, but there haven't been any updates on that project for nearly two years, with a report from February 2016 stating that Ron Howard would direct, but there has been no indication that the project is still active. The Tracking Board broke the news on this Pinocchio project earlier today.