By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist February 17, 2011 at 6:02AM
At last year's San Diego Comic-Con, among the many projects announced by Guillermo del Toro was a stop-motion animated "Pinocchio" with Gris Grimley animating and -- awesomely -- Nick Cave doing the music. Considering the director generally has about a zillion films -- writing, producing or directing -- on his plate, we figured it would be a while before we heard anything further. Guess we were wrong.
Deadline reports that not only is the project still happening, it's moving forward to start production later this year. The film, arriving in 3D, will be co-directed by Grimley (based on his 2002 book of the tale) and Mark Gustafson (animation director of "Fantastic Mr. Fox") and it will be a much darker story than the beloved Disney film. How so?
Del Toro tells Deadline, "the Blue Fairy is really a dead girl’s spirit. Pinocchio has strange moments of lucid dreaming bordering on hallucinations, with black rabbits. The sperm whale that swallows Pinocchio was actually a giant dogfish, which allows for more classical scale and design. The many mishaps Pinocchio goes through include several near-death close calls, a lot more harrowing moments. The key with this is not making any of it feel gratuitous, because the story is integrated with moments of comedy and beauty. He’s one of the great characters, whose purity and innocence allows him to survive in this bleak landscape of robbers and thugs, emerging from the darkness with his soul intact.” Sounds very promising. Del Toro provided the photos below to Deadline to give a feel of what's in store -- it's certainly not something Walt would have recognized.
As for Nick Cave, he will be acting as a music consultant on the film; not sure what that means exactly but we presume he'll be overseeing the score of the film but not directly involved. We guess he'll be tied up scoring John Hillcoat's "The Wettest County" which begins lensing this month.
But what about "At the Mountains of Madness"? As it stands, the $125 million film is still awaiting a greenlight from Universal and Deadline says Tom Cruise is attached (though his reps have denied his involvement in the past likely because he's mulling his options). Del Toro hopes to get the film in front of cameras in May; Universal is apparently very happy with all the pre-production work it's seen so far.
No word yet on release dates, but considering the length of time stop-motion animation takes, we'd say late 2012 at the earliest or perhaps even 2013. And don't think del Toro has just signed off on the project, he'll remain actively involved, telling Deadline, “We’ve designed key frames and characters, we know the mood and the feel, we’ve created a bible. Shooting stop motion animation takes a lot time, but we’ve got the right team and I will be there for daily or weekly updates on how it’s going.”