Robert Zemeckis wished upon the right star.
The Back to the Future filmmaker has closed a deal to direct Disney’s live-action remake of Pinocchio, EW has confirmed. Zemeckis will also co-write a new draft of the screenplay with Chris Weitz (the writer of 2015’s Cinderella), who is producing the film as well.
This comes on the heels of the news that Disney has a photorealistic Bambi remake in the works. Taken together, these developments suggest that the Mouse House is making a substantial effort to emotionally scar a new generation of kids: 1940’s Pinocchio, after all, is known as one of the most demented Disney films in the canon. (Between the kids turning into donkeys, its hero getting locked in a cage, and a few of the studio’s most grotesque villains, the movie has been giving kids a flood of nightmares for almost 80 years now.)
The Pinocchio remake has taken a relatively long and bumpy road to the screen. The project was first announced in 2015, and has seen both 1917’s Sam Mendes and Paddington’s Paul King join and then depart as director. Tom Hanks was reportedly in talks to play Pinocchio’s “father” Geppetto in 2018; it’s unclear if he is still attached to the film.
Zemeckis is currently directing a new adaptation of Roald Dahl‘s The Witches, starring Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer, for Warner Bros. That film will hit theaters Oct. 9. Pinocchio does not yet have a release date.