Skip to main content

Disney’s Live-Action Pinocchio Might Have Found Its Director

Pinocchio standing with an apple in hand

It’s been a while since an update on Disney’s Pinocchio has been had, and in the absence of that information, most have wondered just what’s going on with the live-action adaptation of one of the studio's most beloved classics. Well, it looks like we’re closer to seeing the project happen in the near future, as a candidate for the film’s director post is being courted, and it’s none other than legendary director Robert Zemeckis.

Best known for Back To The Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and Forrest Gump, Zemeckis is the latest name to enter the fray for the potential to helm Pinocchio’s cinematic ship into the port of production. This comes after Paddington franchise director Paul King previously held that role, only to eventually leave when the production was presumably cancelled over last year’s holiday break.

It's a position also held previously by 1917 director Sam Mendes. The troubled history of Pinocchio keeping a director in place has continually prevented the project from moving forward with any substantial progression. Now, with Robert Zemeckis in talks to reopen the workshop, as reported by Variety, we might finally see this young puppet’s journey into becoming a real boy realized once again.

There are some interesting things to note when thinking about Disney’s Pinocchio, and one of them is undoubtedly the fact that Zemeckis’ previous film, the infamously panned Welcome To Marwen, might have actually gotten him the job. The dramedy based on the true story of a man who uses a World War II model village to cope with the fallout of a vicious physical attack was a technical marvel above all else, with Robert Zemeckis using the motion capture skills he earned through making films like The Polar Express to create a fantasy world with life-like dolls.

Obviously those skills counted for quite a bit when bringing the director to the Pinocchio table, but what’s also fascinating to note is that should Zemeckis take the gig, it’d be the first time he’s worked with Disney since 2011, as a producer on another film with a checkered history: Mars Needs Moms. The film that eventually put Robert Zemeckis out of the mo-cap arena for a while, it was not only a disastrous flop, it also cancelled his planned remake of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.

Should Disney’s Pinocchio finally land a director to shift things into gear, it’ll mark another chapter in this film’s voluminous history of trying to realize its vision on the screen. It’ll also put the studio in competition with its former streaming partner Netflix, as they too are in the market of reimagining author Carlo Collodi’s enchanted fairy tale.

Albeit, the streaming giant’s version will be a stop motion version that sees director Guillermo del Toro use the fabled puppet to tell a “brutalist fable” in Mussolini era Italy, so we can kind of see where there’d be room for both projects to exist at the market.

It’s still too early to tell if Robert Zemeckis will officially take on the duties of directing Disney’s Pinocchio, but as soon as any updates break, you’ll hear them from us the moment they do. In the meantime, if you’re curious, you can catch Welcome To Marwen on HBOGo and HBONow, as the film is currently airing/streaming as part of the network’s library.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.