While Disney has been on a roll recently when it comes to its slate of live-action adaptations of classic animated features, the studio has suffered a setback on Pinocchio. A live-action iteration of the 1940 film has been in the works for quite a bit, with Chris Weitz (Rogue One) penning the screenplay. Oscar-winning American Beauty and Skyfall filmmaker Sam Mendes entered talks to direct earlier this year, but now The Tracking Board reports that Mendes has exited the project, leaving the live-action Pinocchio director-less. The filmmaker was actually attached to Disney’s live-action James and the Giant Peach before exiting that project earlier this year for Pinocchio.
Of course the first major question here will be, is Mendes leaving Pinocchio to direct Bond 25 and complete his trilogy? The director was an inspired choice to helm Skyfall and crafted one of the best Bond movies ever, and while he returned to direct Spectre, the follow-up didn’t quite match that high bar. There was talk early in the development of Spectre of Mendes directing Bond 24 and 25 back-to-back, but that faded quickly.
Sources tell The Tracking Board that Mendes’ Pinocchio exit isn’t linked to Bond 25, but the next Bond film is indeed heating up. A shortlist of directors surfaced a few months ago that includes Yann Demange (’71), David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water), and Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049). Villeneuve has essentially taken himself out of the running, affirming that he’s interested in Bond but Dune is his next movie. And Demange is reportedly the frontrunner for the gig, with Bond 25 looming closer now that a distribution deal is finally about to close with Annapurna Pictures and MGM.
So will Mendes throw his hat in the ring? We’ll have to wait and see, but in the meantime Disney is on the hunt for a new Pinocchio director. There’s no reason to panic as they’ve already got a robust slate on tap. Tim Burton’s Dumbo, Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin, Jon Favreau’s The Lion King, and Marc Forster’s Christopher Robin are all set for release in 2019.