“Woe to those who lead slothful lives,” Carlo Collodi wrote in his 1880s children’s stories The Adventures of Pinocchio. “Sloth is a dreadful illness and must be cured at once, in childhood.” Guillermo del Toro has always used childhood as an inoculation against any kinds of laziness. His last film, The Shape of Water, won four Academy Awards last year, including Best Director and Best Picture Oscars. His next movie marks his animated feature film debut. Del Toro will direct, write and produce a stop-motion musical adaptation of Pinocchio for Netflix. He’s wanted to do this all his life, and that’s no lie.
“No art form has influenced my life and my work more than animation and no single character in history has had as deep of a personal connection to me as Pinocchio,” Del Toro said in a statement.
In the latest news, Netflix has officially confirmed that Pinocchio is slated to arrive in 2021. The streaming giant revealed a slate of family-friendly animated features, notably including the 2022-scheduled Jacob and the Sea Monster, an effort headed by Big Hero 6 director Chris Williams, as well as the 2021-scheduled Wendell & Wild, an effort written by Jordan Peele, in which he and Keagan Michael Key voice the roles of demons brothers attempting to escape Hell. Interestingly, the statement’s official description of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio classifies the feature as his “lifelong passion project.”
The Tale of a Puppet, the original book about the animated marionette and his woodcarver father Geppetto, was published in February 1883. Del Toro, who was creative consultant on the animated films Megamind, Puss in Boots and Rise of the Guardians, will set his adaptation of Pinocchio in Italy during during the rise of fascism under Mussolini the 1930s. The screenplay will be written by del Toro and Patrick McHale (Over The Garden Wall, Adventure Time). The film will be co-directed by Mark Gustafson (Fantastic Mr. Fox).
“In our story, Pinocchio is an innocent soul with an uncaring father who gets lost in a world he cannot comprehend, ” del Toro said in a statement. “He embarks on an extraordinary journey that leaves him with a deep understanding of his father and the real world. I’ve wanted to make this movie for as long as I can remember.”
The new project expands Netflix’s existing relationship with del Toro, who is also the creator of the upcoming series, Guillermo del Toro Presents 10 After Midnight. “Throughout his distinguished career, Guillermo has exhibited mastery in inspiring people through his magical worlds filled with unforgettable and magnificent characters, from the monsters in Pan’s Labyrinth to the aquatic beast in The Shape of Water,” Melissa Cobb, Vice President of Kids and Family at Netflix said in a statement.
“We are incredibly excited to expand our relationship with Guillermo and we know that his deeply touching vision for bringing Pinocchio to life on Netflix will be embraced by audiences the world over.”
Del Toro created their Emmy award-winning television series DreamWorks’ Trollhunters, the first installment of the DreamWorks’ Tales of Arcadia trilogy. The next chapter, “3Below,” is set to debut on December 21, 2018, followed by “Wizards” in 2019.
“After the incredible experience we have had on Trollhunters, I am grateful that the talented team at Netflix is giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to introduce audiences everywhere to my version of this strange puppet-turned-real-boy,” del Toro said.
Pinocchio is a production of Guillermo del Toro, The Jim Henson Company (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance), and ShadowMachine (Bojack Horseman, The Shivering Truth), which will house the stop-motion animation production.
Alongside del Toro, Lisa Henson, ShadowMachine’s Alex Bulkley, Corey Campodonico, and Gary Ungar of Exile Entertainment will produce. Blanca Lista will co-produce. Guy Davis will serve as co-production designer, taking inspiration from Gris Grimly’s original design for the Pinocchio character. The film’s puppets will be built by Mackinnon and Saunders, known for their work on Corpse Bride.
The Adventures of Pinocchio was first put to film in 1911 by silent movie director by Giulio Antamoro. Disney’s animated film Pinocchio came out in 1940. Roberto Benigni’s live action Pinocchio came out in 2002.
Netflix expects production on Pinocchio to begin this fall.
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.