Here’s a sentence you never thought you’d see five years ago: The director of those Paddington movies is so hot right now. But as it turns out, he really, really is. Paul King first came to prominence as the director of the British series The Mighty Boosh, and he marked an intriguing choice to helm a Paddington movie based on the lovable bear. But that 2014 film warmed hearts the world over, critics and audiences alike, and King’s sequel Paddington 2 has earned similarly rave reviews. Now, King is being courted for big studio projects all over Hollywood, and he’s lined up to bring his compassionate family film POV to the Disney catalogue.
Variety reports that King is now in talks to direct Disney’s live-action Pinocchio movie, which has been in the works for quite some time. Skyfall filmmaker Sam Mendes was previously attached to direct this new take on Pinocchio, which he signed on to after departing Disney’s live-action James and the Giant Peach, but Mendes departed Pinocchio last November. Chris Weitz and Andrew Miano are producing, and while Weitz (Cinderella) and Peter Hedges (About a Boy) previously penned a draft, Wonder and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child writer Jack Thorne is currently rewriting the script.
This comes on the heels of the news that King has also signed on to direct Warner Bros.’ new adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Titled Willy Wonka, that movie has Man Seeking Woman creator Simon Rich writing the screenplay and King’s Paddington producer David Heyman onboard to produce. But if King finalizes his deal for Pinocchio, it sounds like he’ll make the Disney movie first as the Mouse House is looking to begin production this fall.
Pinocchio is one of several live-action updates in the works at Disney, which found massive success with The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast recently. The studio has Christopher Robin hitting theaters this November, a new update of the Winnie the Pooh story, and a trio of heavy hitters on deck for release in 2019: Jon Favreau’s The Lion King, Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin, and Tim Burton’s Dumbo. If Pinocchio really is going into production this fall, it seems likely Disney is eyeing a 2020 release date for this one.
So King is definitely in demand, and it’ll be interesting to see if he makes Pinocchio and Willy Wonka in quick succession or if he drops one of these projects to focus on the other.
For a complete list of all the Disney live-action remakes in the works, click here.