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Guillermo del Toro might be the director with the most cancelled passion projects currently working. If not, then he's certainly one of the most notable, as projects like his anticipated adaptation of Pinocchio have been dumped after spells in development hell. However, it looks like del Toro has found his Blue Fairy, as the film is actually going to be made, as a Netflix original film.
This was officially announced by Netflix, as they'll be partnering with del Toro to turn Pinocchio into a real film. With a history of over a decade languishing without financing, Pinocchio was cancelled completely, despite having puppets and designs already completed for the stop-motion feature. Production is expected to begin this fall, with producers Lisa Henson, Alex Bulkley, Corey Campodonico, and Gary Ungar all lined up to bring Pinocchio to screens all over.
Over The Garden Wall and Adventure Time writer Patrick McHale will co-write Pinocchio's script with Guillermo del Toro. Meanwhile, Mark Gustafson of Fantastic Mr. Fox fame is co-directing, with Guy Davis taking the post of co-production designer.
Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio has a rather interesting twist to its telling. It's going to take the classic Carlo Collodi story and set it against the backdrop of fascist Italy and the rise of Mussolini. So one could see why traditional financing may not have been readily available previously. Though a couple of recent developments probably changed the course for this project's fate.
Netflix and Guillermo del Toro have become quite the team over the last couple of years, with the Trollhunters franchise building a strong relationship between provider and auteur. The director confirmed as much, when speaking about what Pinocchio means to him, and how the deal came together, in the following statement:
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. In our story, Pinocchio is an innocent soul with an uncaring father who gets lost in a world he cannot comprehend. 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. 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.
What probably changed the tide the most though were the events of this past February, when The Shape of Water cleaned up at the Academy Awards. Most importantly, with the film winning the coveted Best Picture trophy, Netflix probably saw not only an opportunity to help a valued partner, but also a good shot at golden glory themselves.
Before it was cancelled, Guillermo del Toro said that if anyone had $35 million, and wanted to make a Mexican happy, funding Pinocchio would basically be the way to go. So if Netflix saw it fit to give Orson Welles a proper send off from beyond the grave, their decision to give del Toro this creative roll of the dice is pretty much on brand.
Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio has no release date as of now but is supposed to go into production this fall. However, you'll be able to see the further adventures of del Toro and Netflix's collaborative efforts on Dreamworks' Tales of Arcadia. The next chapter, 3 Below, hits the streaming service shows up on December 21st.