Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard is attached to direct Warner Bros.’ PINOCCHIO, sources have confirmed, a project that has been climbing the rungs of the development ladder over the past few years. Howard replaces Paul Thomas Anderson, who was previously attached to write and direct the project, before he stepped away last fall.
Howard, his producing partner Brian Grazer, and their Imagine banner will join forces with producer Dan Jinks of The Dan Jinks Company and Team Downey’s Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey. Downey Jr. is also attached to star in the role of Geppetto.
The family-oriented film has been on Downey Jr.’s radar for some time, and now that Howard is involved, things are expected to move quickly. Jane Goldman, Michael Mitnick, and most recently, Bryan Fuller, have penned previous drafts of the script based on the classic book by Carlo Collodi, and while there’s been no word on a new writer just yet, you can expect Howard to have his say on the project’s next screenwriter.
The story details are being kept under wraps, but the broad strokes follow Geppetto as he sets out to find Pinocchio when he goes missing.
Live-action adaptations of Pinocchio have been done before – Roberto Benigni had a take on the story in 2002 – but this latest version is expected to follow the trend of recent live-action adaptations of popular children stories like Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, and Cinderella all of which have found enormous commercial success by tweaking the details of familiar narratives to suit a broader audience.
The forthcoming Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, and The Jungle Book: Origins are all expected to follow a similar formula, drawing in audiences with recognizable properties, but subverting their expectations. (Howard was once in talks to direct Warner Bros.’ Jungle Book: Origins after Alejandro González Iñárritu left the project, but Andy Serkis eventually landed the gig.)
Howard recently directed the Moby Dick-inspired epic, In the Heart of the Sea. His next movie, Inferno, is the third installment of The DaVinci Code franchise and will once again star Tom Hanks opposite Felicity Jones. Inferno is expected to bow in theaters on October 14, 2016.
With Captain America: Civil War set to drop this summer, Downey Jr. is currently gearing up for Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 & 2.
Howard and Downey Jr. are both repped by CAA.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer