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Guillermo del Toro to direct long-gestating Pinocchio project for Netflix

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Oct 23, 2018, 9:40 AM EDT (Updated)

After Guillermo del Toro's momentous Oscar wins for The Shape of Water, there are pretty much no strings on him anymore, allowing him to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. What this means is that he now has free rein to pursue some of his passion projects, with studios having more confidence in bankrolling his ambitious visions.

Today, it was confirmed that del Toro would direct his long-gestating Pinocchio project for Netflix, with which he already has a positive working relationship thanks to Trollhunters and 3Below: Tales of Arcadia. Production is expected to take place this fall.

“No art form has influenced my life and my work more than animation and no single character in history has had as deep of a personal connection to me as Pinocchio,” said del Toro in a statement. “In our story, Pinocchio is an innocent soul with an uncaring father who gets lost in a world he cannot comprehend. He embarks on an extraordinary journey that leaves him with a deep understanding of his father and the real world. I’ve wanted to make this movie for as long as I can remember.”

Given the director's style up until this point, you can expect a much darker take on the tale of a puppet that comes to life. Come to think of it, the Disney version from 1940 was also pretty frightening, despite being a movie made for children. Similar to Pan's Labyrinth (which took place in Franco's Sapin), del Toro's film will be set during the prominence of Fascism in 1930s Italy, when Benito Mussolini was running the country.

The ideology of Fascism has deep ties to the property of Pinocchio. Christian Rub, who voiced Geppetto in the Disney film, was a Nazi sympathizer and reportedly annoyed the animation crew with his constant praise of Adolf Hitler. They got their revenge when it came time to shoot the sequence of Geppetto fishing inside the whale, Monstro. They filmed the scene in live action (with the intention of animating it later) and rocked Rub's boat a little more aggressively than was absolutely necessary.

“Throughout his distinguished career, Guillermo has exhibited mastery in inspiring people through his magical worlds filled with unforgettable and magnificent characters, from the monsters in Pan’s Labyrinth to the aquatic beast in The Shape of Water,” said Melissa Cobb, vice president of Kids and Family at Netflix, in a statement. “We are incredibly excited to expand our relationship with Guillermo and we know that his deeply touching vision for bringing Pinocchio to life on Netflix will be embraced by audiences the world over.”

The musical movie, told in stop motion, will require the help of the Jim Henson Company (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance) as well as ShadowMachine (BoJack Horseman). Patrick McHale (Over The Garden Wall) is co-writing the script, while Mark Gustafson (Fantastic Mr. Fox) takes up the post of co-director. Mackinnon & Saunders, the company responsible for Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, has been tapped for build the puppets.

Lisa Henson, Alex Bulkley, Corey Campodonico, Gary Ungar, and Blanca Lista are all co-producing the feature.