Sam Mendes steps down from live-action Pinocchio

Ben Bussey
UK Movies Writer
The original 1940 ‘Pinocchio’ (credit: Disney)

Disney’s ongoing series of live-action takes on the studio’s back catalogue of animated classics continues apace – but one in-development project just lost its director.

According to The Tracking Board, Sam Mendes has walked away from “early talks” to take the director’s chair of the planned remake of ‘Pinocchio,’ Walt Disney’s second animated feature from 1940.

No reasons have been given for the Oscar-winning 52-year old filmmaker’s decision to leave the project. However, given Mendes’ last two films were ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Spectre,’ there will inevitably be speculation that he might be freeing up his schedule for the in-development 25th James Bond movie.

However, The Tracking Board stress, “sources are saying that Mendes’ exit from ‘Pinocchio’ isn’t linked to ‘Bond 25.'” On top of which, Mendes himself ruled out making another Bond movie after ‘Spectre,’ telling The Guardian in May 2016, ““It was an incredible adventure, I loved every second of it. But I think it’s time for somebody else.”

Disney has enjoyed huge box office success with its recent string of live-action remakes from big-name directors, including Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Cinderella’ and Jon Favreau’s ‘The Jungle Book.’ Favreau is currently at work on another Disney remake, ‘The Lion King.’

Bill Condon’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ has been the biggest hit of them all: its box office takings of $1.263 billion make it the biggest hit of 2017 thus far.

Other live-action Disney remakes in the offing include Tim Burton’s ‘Dumbo’ with Colin Farrell, Eva Green and Michael Keaton, due 29 March 2019; and Guy Ritchie’s ‘Aladdin’ starring Will Smith as the Genie, opening 24 May 2019.

Disney’s ‘Pinocchio’ is being written and produced by Chris Weitz, and does not have a release date set at present.

It is not related to the production of ‘Pinocchio’ reported to have been in the works at Warner Bros last year, with Robert Downey Jr linked to the role of Gepetto; nor does it have anything to do with Guillermo del Toro’s planned stop-motion animated version of the story, which was recently confirmed to be defunct.

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