Disney’s Live-Action Pinocchio Loses Director Sam Mendes

Skyfall and American Beauty director Sam Mendes has exited the live-action Pinocchio film being developed at Disney. Mendes has said he won’t return to direct Bond 25 after helming Skyfall and Spectre, both of which were huge at the box office, but that won’t prevent folks from speculating Mendes may now be headed back to the 007 franchise for a third go-around.

Disney has made hay in recent years with live-action revivals of their classic film properties, including Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, The Jungle Book and Cinderella. This year brought Beauty and the Beast, a faithful live-action rendering of the 1991 animated film, which soared to $1.2 billion at the worldwide box office (a development that only assures the non-animated remake trend will continue). The live-action assembly line will churn out Christopher Robin, Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King in the coming years, with a bevy of further projects being planned, including Pinocchio.

Related: How Walt Disney Kept Pinocchio’s Story On Track

As reported by The Tracking Board, Pinocchio will now have to continue without director Sam Mendes, who has elected to drop out of the project. Pinocchio is still in the early stages of the process so there’s plenty of time for Disney to find a director willing to fill Mendes’ shoes. The studio has put together an impressive roster of big-name directors to helm their future projects, including Tim Burton (Dumbo), Guy Ritchie (Aladdin) and Jon Favreau (The Lion King).

Sam Mendes Directing James Bond Disney’s Live Action Pinocchio Loses Director Sam Mendes

Released in 1940, the original Pinocchio was the second Disney animated musical film after the studio’s massive breakthrough success Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. A box office bomb in its initial release, the movie did make history by becoming the first animated film to win competitive Oscars, and would ultimately make money in reissues over the years.

It may only be a coincidence, but on the same day it was revealed that Mendes has dropped out of Disney’s live-action Pinocchio, it was also reported that Annapurna Pictures is nearing a deal to secure distribution rights for Bond 25 in conjunction with MGM. Mendes has been adamant that he’s done with Bond, but with the movie franchise’s future now coming into sharper focus, perhaps wheels are turning that would bring him back into the fold. After all, Daniel Craig at one point was also definitely not coming back, until he decided to come backBlade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve recently took his own name out of the running for Bond 25, saying he’s too busy developing a Dune remake to tackle 007.

With Pinocchio now lacking a director, perhaps Disney would consider contacting Guillermo del Toro, who recently was forced to concede that his own long-planned stop-motion version of the classic story will not be happening. Disney likely wouldn’t let del Toro go the stop-motion route, but it would still be interesting to see the ever-inventive director get an unlimited budget to go to town on a story he obviously loves.

Source: Tracking Board

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