Best buds Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis are teaming up for another project. Having previously collaborated on movies such as Forrest Gump, Cast Away, and The Polar Express, the duo will now work on Disney’s live-action version of Pinocchio together.
Hanks was reported to be in negotiations for the role of Geppetto back in 2018. However, back then Paddington director Paul King was helming the project, but he eventually dropped out and that version of the project fell through. Obviously Disney was still planning the film, but Hanks’ casting wasn’t confirmed and the studio regrouped and focused on other live-action remakes.
Hanks himself apparently reached out to Zemeckis about doing the movie. Hanks would play the kindly woodcarver who creates a living puppet who longs to be a real boy. Chris Weitz, who previously wrote Disney’s live-action Cinderella, will pen the script.
Zemeckis’ involvement is interesting because of his relationship with Disney. He initially tried to make Who Framed Roger Rabbit in the early 1980s. However at the time Disney wasn’t prepared for that sort of live-action/animation hybrid, and didn’t have the correct licensing in place, so the project was pushed back.
Zemeckis returned to the film in the late 80s with a new management team installed at Disney and friend Steven Spielberg agreeing to help out. The resulting film was a smash hit success, however Zemeckis vowed never to work with Disney again due to the micromanagement and penny-pinching from executive Jeffrey Katzenberg.
This is what led to a Roger Rabbit sequel stalling multiple times. Zemeckis kept to his word until Disney signed a multi-picture deal with Zemeckis’ ImageMovers Digital to release a series of movies using (at the time) groundbreaking motion-capture technology.
But after the second film in the deal, the infamous Mars Needs Moms (which Zemeckis didn’t direct) resulted in one of the costliest bombs in Disney history, the studio severed ties with Zemeckis, in the process canceling his motion-captured Yellow Submarine remake. So, one assumes with this Pinocchio news that all is now okay, but who knows. Maybe this is an inside job by Zemeckis.
Most of the live-action Disney remakes have been pretty milquetoast, which hasn’t stopped them making billions of dollars, of course. But hopefully with Zemeckis and Hanks on board, Pinocchio can actually have some substance to it.