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Del Toro said around the time of The Shape of Water's release that he was going to take a break from directing for a bit, with his only announced directorial effort since then being an animated version of Pinocchio for Netflix. But he has continued to steadily develop other new projects, and apparently he's been secretly preparing a new live-action film to write and direct himself as well.
The film is called Zanbato, and according to Collider, it supposedly focuses on a young girl, aged somewhere between 10 and 15, who has incredible fighting skills. Del Toro took to Twitter himself to confirm the project, saying he's been working on it for about six years and adding that despite initial speculation that the girl was a ninja, that wasn't the case:
The "JJ maximum security system" he mentions is that of J.J. Abrams, whose Bad Robot production company is behind Zanbato, along with Paramount Pictures. Abrams and his company are known for their extreme secrecy, so it's not surprising to learn that del Toro has been working on this movie all along without anyone hearing about it.
And even though we still know very little about it (we suspect there's a lot more to the plot than the one-line description above), the idea of two massive genre fans and creators like Guillermo del Toro and J.J. Abrams teaming up on a project certainly puts Zanbato high on our list of things to keep a close eye on. Del Toro said it's "still developing steadily," which could mean he might shoot something else first — perhaps Pinocchio or another movie we're unaware of.
Both he and Abrams remain super-busy in the meantime. Del Toro has also co-written and produced the upcoming adaptation of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, while also producing Antlers, a new horror film from Black Mass director Scott Cooper. He's also producing a series called Carnival Row for Amazon and continuing to oversee Tales of Arcadia.