Guillermo del Toro has been laying low since winning two Oscars for The Shape of Water but he continues to develop projects for the big screen while he preps Pinocchio for Netflix. To that end, he has signed on to write and direct Zanbato for Paramount and J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot, Collider has exclusively learned.
Plot details remain under wraps, but sources say that Zanbato centers around a young girl (between 10-15) with lethal fighting skills — think Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass or the title character in Alita: Battle Angel. Our sources initially described the character as a “ninja,” but del Toro himself took to Twitter to clarify that the protagonist is not a ninja. It’s an idea he’s been working on for years though it has never come to light until now.
Zanbato is one of many projects del Toro is developing, but regardless of when it goes before cameras, the idea of two industry titans like del Toro and Abrams teaming up on a fun genre movie has to be exciting to film fans of all stripes.
Del Toro won Best Director for The Shape of Water, which also won Best Picture and brought him a third nomination for co-writing the original screenplay with Vanessa Taylor. The film, which starred Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer and Doug Jones, grossed nearly $200 million worldwide. Del Toro was previously nominated for writing Pan’s Labyrinth.
Up next for del Toro are two projects that he produced — Scott Cooper‘s Antlers at Fox Searchlight, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark at CBS Films. He also serves as an executive producer on Amazon’s upcoming series Carnival Row starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevigne.
Abrams is in post-production on Star Wars: Episode IX, which will hit theaters in December and presumably unveil its official title before then. He’s also an executive producer on HBO’s upcoming series Lovecraft Country, which counts Jordan Peele as one of its co-creators.
Del Toro is represented by WME and Exile Entertainment, while Abrams is repped by CAA.