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‘Pinocchio’ Joins Disney Roster of Live Action Retooling of Animated Titles (VIDEO)

'Pinocchio' Joins Disney Roster of Live Action Retooling of Animated Titles (VIDEO)

The latest entry in Disney’s push to own the fairy tale universe–as studio label Marvel does its comic book heroes– is a live-action version of the 1883 Carlo Collodi children’s classic “The Adventures of Pinocchio,” about a wooden puppet who wants to be a real boy. The relationship between lonely good-hearted wood carver Geppetto and his mendacious creation is at the center of the story. Peter Hedges (“Pieces of April”) has a take on the story, reports Deadline, which has been retold on film many times (Roberto Begnini is pictured), including Disney’s 1940 version and the 1967 animated musical.

As usual there’s another version in the works; Guillermo del Toro is developing  a stop-motion 3D movie with the producer of “The Book Of Life” who plans to co-direct from a script co-written with Matthew Robbins. 

“Pinocchio” joins the lengthening Disney live action remake roster. 
1998 animated musical “Mulan,” produced by Chris Bender and J.C. Spink (“We’re the Millers,” “Horrible Bosses 2″) is being written by Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek. The live action movie will again focus on Chinese warrior Hua Mulan, who impersonated a man in order to take her ailing father’s position in the army, accompanied by her dragon Mushu. Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook’s animated musical “Mulan” grossed $300 million worldwide. 

Next up in Disney’s planned series of live action remakes of animated films is Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” (2016), directed by Jon Favreau with CG animals sharing the screen with a real boy, based the 1967 Disney animated classic. Also in the works is Tim Burton’s live-action “Dumbo” and “Through the Looking Glass,” a follow-up to Burton’s 2010 $1 billion grosser “Alice in Wonderland.”

Also fueling the drive to keep these movies coming was Angelina Jolie’s worldwide smash “Maleficent” ($758 million worldwide) and spring hit “Cinderella,” which is heading toward $400 million around the world.  The studio is developing a live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” (March 17, 2017).

Emma Thompson recently sang Stephen Sondheim’s Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd,” a role originated by another great character actress with a somewhat stronger voice, Angela Lansbury, who also voiced Mrs. Potts in the 1991 Disney animated feature “Beauty and the Beast.” Well, Thompson will play Mrs. Potts opposite Emma Watson as Belle, Kevin Kline as her father Maurice, Dan Stevens as the Prince/Beast, and Luke Evans as thick-necked Gaston in Disney’s live action reprise of the musical, which won two Oscars for score and song for Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman.

Menken will return to score the live action movie, which will feature fresh recordings of the original songs in addition to several new songs written by Menken and Sir Tim Rice. which is set for release in 3D on March 17, 2017. Bill Condon will direct from a script by Stephen Chbosky, and the film will be produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman. Production begins in May at Shepperton Studios in London.

Meanwhile, Disney’s studio rivals are able to adapt these public domain fairy tales too. This summer Warner Bros. is releasing Joe Wright’s “Pan,” starring Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara, beating out Disney’s adaptation of its classic animated musical, as well as Andy Serkis’s “Jungle Book: Origins,” featuring motion-capture animals (Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett) with a live-action Mowgli, for 2017. They were also developing “Beauty and the Beast.” 

Disney and Sony are producing dueling “Robin Hood” projects, and Universal is pushing forward with a sequel to “Snow White and the Huntsman” as well as Working Title’s “The Little Mermaid.”

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