In the wake of a string of bombs, i.e. last Christmas’ Welcome to Marwen ($13M) and the Brad Pitt-Marion Cotillard WWII spy romance Allied ($120M off an $85M production cost), Forrest Gump Oscar winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis is in early talks to direct a live-action version of Pinocchio for Disney. It’s the same kind of career rebound that Guy Ritchie employed following his disastrous King Arthur: Legend of the Sword: Hook up with Disney on a branded live-action feature toon IP that speaks to a filmmaker’s talent, and the box office riches will take care of itself. For Ritchie, that was this summer’s Aladdin which easily became his highest grossing film of all-time with $1.05 billion.
Andrew Miano and Chris Weitz are producing Pinocchio through their Depth of Field label with Weitz writing the feature adapted from the 1940 Disney classic ($85M domestic B.O. unadjusted for inflation) about a wooden puppet, his father-creater Geppetto and the former’s quest to become a real boy. Weitz and Simon Farnaby also wrote the most recent draft according to Variety which broke the news. Zemeckis is currently in post on Warner Bros.’ The Witches.
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Note live-action versions of Pinocchio have been shattered into splinters at the box office: There was the 1996 Savoy production which was repossessed after the sale of the studio to Barry Diller by New Line resulting in an awful $15M stateside back in 1996, and the Disney/Miramax Roberto Benigni 2002 version, which the Oscar winner made following his success with Life Is Beautiful. That also died with $3.7M stateside, $41.3M worldwide. However, Disney has yet to make their rendition of their own classic, and that could be all the difference here.