The filmmaker will write, direct and produce a new adaptation of Pinocchio, setting up his long-in-the works project at Netflix, which made the announcement Monday.
Pinocchio will finally put del Toro in the belly of the animation whale, so to speak. The Mexico-born filmmaker has acted as a creative consultant and executive producer over the years on movies such as Megamind, Puss in Boots and Rise of the Guardians and as a producer on Book of Life, but he has never helmed one.
The story will be told as a stop-motion musical and set during the rise of fascism in Italy under Mussolini.
“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,” del Toro said in a statement. “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.”
Production is set to begin this fall, as del Toro has already assembled many key below-the-line talent.
Patrick McHale, who created the animated miniseries Over the Garden Wall and penned episodes of Adventure Time, is co-writing the script with del Toro. Mark Gustafson, the stop-motion vet who worked on Fantastic Mr. Fox, will co-direct.
Guy Davis, a comic and concept artist who has worked with del Toro on several movies, will serve as co-production designer, taking inspiration from Pinocchio character designs by Gris Grimly, the children’s book artist whose work graced an edition in the early 2000s.
The film’s puppets will be built by Mackinnon & Saunders, known for their work on Corpse Bride.
The Jim Henson Company and ShadowMachine (BoJack Horseman), which will house the stop-motion animation production, are producing with del Toro. The latter, Lisa Henson, ShadowMachine’s Alex Bulkley, Corey Campodonico and Gary Ungar of Exile Entertainment are the producers. Blanca Lista will co-produce.
The new project keeps del Toro deeply entrenched in the Netflix fold. The streaming giant already releases the animated television series Trollhunters, which is part of the director’s intended Tales of Arcadia trilogy. He is also the creator of the upcoming Netflix series Guillermo del Toro Presents 10 After Midnight.
“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,” added del Toro.
“Throughout his distinguished career, Guillermo has exhibited mastery in inspiring people through his magical worlds filled with unforgettable and magnificent characters, from the monsters in Pan’s Labyrinth to the aquatic beast in The Shape of Water. We are incredibly excited to expand our relationship with Guillermo and we know that his deeply touching vision for bringing Pinocchio to life on Netflix will be embraced by audiences the world over,” enthused Netflix’s vp kids and family Melissa Cobb.
Del Toro has been trying to mount a take on Pinocchio since the early 2000s.
The tale of the puppet boy brought magically to life continues to be a resonating one, and Disney is currently developing a live-action remake of its own animated classic. Paul King, who directed the Paddington movies, is on board to helm.