Tom Hanks is being eyed to play Geppetto in Disney’s live-action Pinocchio movie and the two-time Oscar winner is in early talks to take on the role, Collider has exclusively learned.
Paddington filmmaker Paul King is directing and Rogue One scribe Chris Weitz is producing with his Depth of Field partner Andrew Miano. It’s unclear who the script will ultimately be credited to, though sources say that Simon Farnaby has been tapped to pen the latest draft of the script after working with King on the Paddington films. Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) was the previous writer on the project, while Weitz and King also had a hand in the Pinocchio script. The film is slated to have a budget in the $150 million range, and production is slated to start next summer.
The classic animated film, which Disney originally released in 1940, follows a living puppet who must prove himself worthy in order to become a real boy. The character of Geppetto is a master toymaker as well as a widower who longs for a son. He fashions Pinocchio out of wood and wishes upon a star for him to come to life. The Blue Fairy gifts Pinocchio the spark of life but he remains a wooden boy. Naturally, Geppetto is protective of Pinocchio, prompting the boy to set out and see the world for himself. Jiminy Cricket tries to steer him on the right path but Pinocchio is forced to find his own way. Geppetto ultimately goes in search of him, clashing with Stromboli, the villainous producer of a marionette show, as well as a giant sea beast named Monstro.
To quote from THR’s April 2017 story about Will Smith being in “early talks” to play the Genie in Aladdin, “he remains a high-salary player, so a deal is far from a sure thing.” The same can be said here for Hanks, who seems perfect for the part but doesn’t come cheap, though Disney is no stranger to paying star salaries and the film does offer Hanks the opportunity to work with the director of what is, technically, the most critically-acclaimed film of all time. It’s true. King is coming off of Paddington 2, which boasts a perfect 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s virtually unheard of, and the universal admiration for that movie helped King secure another high-profile studio gig in addition to Pinocchio, as he’s also attached to direct a Willy Wonka origin story for Warner Bros. It makes sense that A-list talent like Hanks would be lining up to work with King, especially given his Walt Disney-like knack for family films.
Indeed, while Hanks continues to voice Woody in the Toy Story movies, he really hasn’t appeared in a pure family film like Pinocchio since 2004’s motion-capture animated The Polar Express, as Saving Mr. Banks, in which he played Walt Disney himself, skewed a little older. Instead, Hanks has been sticking to prestige dramas of late, including Steven Spielberg‘s The Post, Clint Eastwood‘s Sully, Paul Greengrass‘ Captain Phillips and Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies — none of which, inexplicably, earned him an Oscar nomination. In fact, Hanks hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar since 2000’s Cast Away, which seems almost criminal. Perhaps his turn as Gepetto will bring the house down and earn him his first supporting nomination.
Hanks next stars as Mister Rogers in Marielle Heller‘s untitled film about the beloved children’s television personality. He also wrote, produced and stars in Aaron Schneider‘s upcoming war drama Greyhound. Disney will release Pixar’s Toy Story 4 on June 21, 2019. The studio has several live-action remakes on the horizon, including Tim Burton’s Dumbo, Jon Favreau‘s The Lion King, Niki Caro‘s Mulan and Guy Ritchie‘s Aladdin. That quartet comes on the heels of Bill Condon‘s Beauty and the Beast, Robert Stromberg‘s Maleficent, David Lowery‘s Pete’s Dragon, Kenneth Branagh‘s Cinderella and Favreau’s gorgeous remake of The Jungle Book. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is also developing a live-action remake of The Sword in the Stone. Hanks is represented by CAA, and a representative for the actor did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Disney had no comment.