One very dark fairytale is heading to Netflix.
Based on Italian writer Carlo Collodi’s 1883 children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio, del Toro’s version of this tale — most famously popularised by Disney’s 1940 animated movie Pinocchio — will be stop-motion musical. Unlike the Disney film, which evoked a timeless quality, the Netflix movie will take place during the rise of fascism in Italy.
Regardless of time period, the Pinocchio tale is a dark one. What starts as a story of a wooden puppet yearning to become a “real boy” spirals into a moral warning about the threat of pleasure and temptation.
In the Disney film (only the second full-length animated film made by the company), Pinocchio goes to “Pleasure Island,” a place where boys can eat, drink, and be merry to their heart’s content… until they are turned into labor donkeys. It’s only the love of Pinocchio’s father, Geppetto, that saves the puppet, and turns him into a boy of flesh and blood.
In a statement to THR, del Toro revealed it was his “personal connection” to the story that made him choose this film as his new Netflix project. He also shared that this version would be a different beast from the sweet father/son story that Disney presented.
“In our story, Pinocchio is an innocent soul with an uncaring father who gets lost in a world he cannot comprehend,” del Toro said in the statement. “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.”
This isn’t the only Pinocchio movie in the works. In November of 2017, The Guardian reported three Pinocchio films (including the version from del Toro, which at the time lacked financing) were in development. Producer Jeremy Thomas was hoping to make a live-action version with Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone, while Robert Downey Jr. planned another with himself in the role of Geppetto. In February of 2018, THR reported that Disney had a live-action Pinocchio with Paddington director Paul King on the horizon.
Right now, it looks like del Toro's version is closest to reality. With the Crimson Peak director at the helm, expect the first new Pinocchio to lean heavily into the story's darkest elements.