“Why do you want to be real when you can be famous?”
Such is the haunting question at the center of Disney+’s “Pinocchio,” premiering September 8. Co-written and directed by Academy Award winner Robert Zemeckis, the live-action/animated hybrid retelling of the beloved classic tale stars Tom Hanks as Geppetto and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as the titular wooden doll who dreams of becoming a real boy.
Yet as “Honest” John (Keegan-Michael Key) lures Pinocchio, a talking puppet, into performing as the “eighth wonder of the world,” it’s up to Geppetto, the Blue Fairy (Cynthia Erivo), and Jiminy Cricket (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to guide the boy built with “no conscience.”
Lorraine Bracco, Luke Evans, Kyanne Lamaya, Jaquita Ta’Le, Giuseppe Battiston, and Lewin Lloyd also star.
Based on the 1883 Italian book by Carlo Collodi and the 1940 Disney movie, the new “Pinocchio” has been in development since 2015. While a slew of writers and directors were once attached to the project — including “Paddington” helmer Paul King — longtime Hanks collaborator Zemeckis eventually took over directing duties. Hanks previously collaborated with Zemeckis on “The Polar Express,” “Cast Away,” and “Forrest Gump” and are set to work together again for graphic novel adaptation “Here,” also starring Robin Wright.
“Wicked” actress and Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award winner Erivo takes on the iconic “When You Wish Upon a Star” ballad, a song that originally was sung by Jiminy Cricket. The film also includes additional original songs composed by Academy Award nominees Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard (“The Polar Express”).
As for Disney+’s “Pinocchio,” the film is not to be confused with Netflix’s stop-motion “Pinocchio” adaptation led by Guillermo del Toro. The animated feature will premiere in December 2022 and stars David Bradley as Geppetto. Ewan McGregor voices Sebastian J. Cricket, the narrator of the fantastical tale. Newcomer Gregory Mann is the titular “real boy” Pinocchio, with Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchett, John Turturro, Ron Perlman, Tim Blake Nelson, Burn Gorman, Christoph Waltz, and Tilda Swinton rounding out the ensemble cast.
The screenplay for “Pinocchio” is penned by director Zemeckis and Chris Weitz, who both also produce the film along with Andrew Miano and Derek Houge. Jack Rapke, Jacqueline Levine, Jeremy Johns, and Paul Weitz serve as executive producers.
“Pinocchio” premieres September 8 on Disney+.
Check out the trailer below.