Netflix picks up Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion ‘Pinocchio’ project

Guillermo del Toro has a soft spot for Pinocchio.
Image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Pinocchio, the classic fairytale made famous by Disney in 1940, is getting the stop-motion treatment thanks to Netflix and director Guillermo del Toro, Entertainment Weekly reported Monday.

Del Toro, known for directing fantastical movies like Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim, and most recently The Shape of Water, has been dreaming about bringing a Pinocchio project to life for years, and it looks like he’s finally getting a chance to do so in a musical, stop-motion fashion thanks to Netflix’s new involvement.

This particular Pinocchio project is separate from Disney’s own live-action Pinocchio project, which recruited Paddington director Paul King earlier this year. Hopefully they don’t come out too close to each other.

The story of Pinocchio was originally published in 1883 by Italian writer Carlo Collodi, in which a man named Geppetto crafted a wooden puppet that wants to become a real boy. Pinocchio’s most defining characteristic is his nose, which grows longer when he lies.

What I’m going for is a PG-13 — more adolescent, more teenage

This story has resonated with del Toro for a long time. In fact, the director spoke to EW about why he likes Pinocchio and his dream of directing a Pinocchio project back in 2012 — at that point there was a “solid draft” of a screenplay as well as some visuals and a storyboard.

As for del Toro’s take on the tale, he said he was aiming for something a little more grown up than Disney’s version.

“The Disney version is one of my favorite animated movies of all time,” he told EW. “What I’m going for is a PG-13 — more adolescent, more teenage. I hesitate to say just darker, because it’s not just darker. It is a tale that is adapted to a more complex reality, more complex ethical questions. It’s more a tale for youth than a tale for just kids.”

Del Toro also mentioned taking inspiration from illustrator Gris Grimly’s visual take on the fairytale.

The idea of del Toro taking on Pinocchio makes sense given his penchant for storytelling revolving around outsiders. According to EW‘s most recent report, this new stop-motion Pinocchio musical will take place in Italy during the fascist reign of Benito Mussolini, which bares similarities to Pan’s Labyrinth‘s setting in Spain after the Spanish War and in the midst of World War II.

As for what drew del Toro to Pinocchio, he mentioned in 2012 what he loves about the fairytale and specifically about how it’s focus on evolution is appealing.

“In a strange way, two of the stories that fascinate me the most are kind of related, which is Frankenstein and Pinocchio,” he told EW. “They are both about creatures that are created and then get lost in a world they don’t understand. And they are both journeys of understanding, and journeys of evolution of the spirit. When we started working on Pinocchio we knew very clearly that we wanted to make it different in the sense that it is not just a fairy tale but a fairy tale that actually moves you and emotionally affects you. It deals with ideas that are relevant to everyone, to all mankind in a way.”

There is no timeframe for the new stop-motion Pinocchio project as of yet.

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