For the past four years, Robert Downey Jr. has been trying to get a new live-action version of Pinocchio off the ground, with the actor set to star as Geppetto and produce through his Team Downey company. Today, the project is moving forward once again, with The Tracking Board reporting that Ron Howard is now attached to direct. The filmamker replaces Paul Thomas Anderson, who stepped away from Pinocchio back in November.

We first reported on this project back in January 2012, when Robert Downey Jr. signed on to portray Geppetto and produce. Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller had originally been tasked with writing the script, with Michael Mitnick (The Giver), Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Secret Service) and Paul Thomas Anderson also working on drafts of the script. The site reports that Ron Howard is expected to have a say in who the next writer will be.

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The project is expected to be a family-oriented movie, centering on Geppetto who goes on a journey to find Pinocchio after he goes missing. Tim Burton was originally attached to direct, with Ben Stiller coming aboard to direct in 2013. With Ron Howard now on board to direct, the project is expected to move forward quickly, although it isn't known when production may start. Warner Bros. hasn't issued a release date quite yet.

Ron Howard is producing with his Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer, joining Dan Jinks of The Dan Jinks Company and Team Downey's Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey. There have been several live-action adaptations of Carlo Carlei's original story, most recently, Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio, which hit theaters in 2002. This project finding its footing now is quite timely, since Disney has found plenty of success with their live-action blockbusters like Maleficent, Cinderella and the upcoming Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Ron Howard most recently directed In the Heart of the Sea, and his next movie, Inferno, hits theaters on October 14. The director also hinted last year that a sequel to his beloved 1980s classic Willow may happen some day, but nothing is in the works quite yet. Are you looking forward to a Ron Howard-directed version of Pinocchio?