Guillermo del Toro and Jim Henson Company Developing 3D Stop-Motion Animated PINOCCHIO

     February 17, 2011

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Guillermo del Toro, The Jim Henson Company, and Pathe are set to produce a 3D stop-motion animated adaptation of Pinocchio.  Deadline reports that Gris Grimly and Mark Gustafson (animation director for Fantastic Mr. Fox) will direct the new version which will be “edgier” than the 1940 Disney adaptation. Grimly illustrated a 2002 book based on the character that will serve as the basis for the project.  Del Toro and collaborator Matthew Robbins (Mimic, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) crafted the story with Robbins penning the script.

Hit the jump for more exciting details on this project, including the participation of writer/composer Nick Cave (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford).

pinocchio-stop-motion-concept-art-01According to Deadline, the new version is “aimed at an audience 10 years and up, and a bit scarier than the Disney film.” (although as a kid, I remember the Disney version being slightly terrifying).  Del Toro tells Deadline:

“There has to be darkness in any fairy tale or children’s narrative work, something the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and Walt Disney understood.  We tend to call something Disney-fied, but a lot of people forget how powerfully disturbing the best animated Disney movies are, including those kids being turned into donkeys in Pinocchio. What we’re trying to do is present a Pinocchio that is more faithful to the take that [original author Carlo Colodi] wrote. That is more surreal and slightly darker than what we’ve seen before.”

Although can anything really be more terrifying than Roberto Benigni’s attempt to play the character in 2002?

Del Toro explained what he means when he says this new Pinocchio will be “more surreal and slightly darker” than the Disney version:

“The Blue Fairy is really a dead girl’s spirit. Pinocchio has strange moments of lucid dreaming bordering on hallucinations, with black rabbits. The sperm whale that swallows Pinocchio was actually a giant dogfish, which allows for more classical scale and design. The many mishaps Pinocchio goes through include several near-death close calls, a lot more harrowing moments. The key with this is not making any of it feel gratuitous, because the story is integrated with moments of comedy and beauty. He’s one of the great characters, whose purity and innocence allows him to survive in this bleak landscape of robbers and thugs, emerging from the darkness with his soul intact.”

Guillermo del Toro image Hellboy 2 (1)If all of this emerging from the mind of del Toro doesn’t sound amazing enough, then how’s this: Nick Cave will be the music consultant and “the puppets and 3D elements will be developed with McKinnon and Saunders, the UK-based facility that worked on Fantastic Mr. Fox, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, and the upcoming Frankenweenie.

The project was originally developed in 2006 with del Toro intending to direct.  Instead, he decided to do Pan’s Labyrinth and has since been unable to find time to handle it personally.  However, the brilliant writer-producer-director says,

We’ve designed key frames and characters, we know the mood and the feel, we’ve created a bible.  Shooting stop motion animation takes a lot time, but we’ve got the right team and I will be there for daily or weekly updates on how it’s going.”

Del Toro is currently set to direct an R-rated big-budget 3D adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness with James Cameron producing and Tom Cruise attached to star.  They hope to receive a green light from Universal Pictures in two weeks and start production by May.

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