The transformation of Shawn Levy is nearly complete. Having been a much-derided director of nakedly commercial comedies like "Night at the Museum," "Cheaper By The Dozen" and "The Pink Panther," the helmer took a left-turn into effects-driven family territory, with "Real Steel," which turned out to be far better received than you'd expect a movie about robot boxing to be, and is currently doing well (although not amazingly so) at the box office.
It seems to have marked the start of a second act in Levy's career. He was James Cameron's choice to direct the 3D epic "Fantastic Voyage," only to swap it out for a new take on "Frankenstein" at Fox -- neither of which would have been within the reach of the director of "Big Fat Liar" a year or two ago. And now, he's taken on another project aiming to be a big four-quadrant hit, within Hollywood's favorite new sub-genre: the redundant fairy tale revisionism!
Deadline report that writer Michael Vukadinovich has sold a spec for a prequel to classic tale "Pinocchio," entitled "The Three Misfortunes of Geppetto," to 20th Century Fox and Levy's production company 21 Laps, and Levy himself is now attached to direct the project. The script is drawing comparisons to "Big Fish" and "The Princess Bride," and will follow the titular Geppetto, the creator of the wooden puppet who wanted to be a real boy, across a hard life as he tries to be with his one true love, a woman named Julia Moon. Because everyone's favorite character in the story was, of course, not its wooden protagonist, but his elderly father figure. And we all had so many unanswered questions about him.
What puzzles us is that there doesn't seem to be anything about that logline that makes it necessary for Geppetto to be the hero. Maybe Vukadinovich wrote a genuinely brilliant, original fantasy tale, but realized he needed some kind of fairy tale connection to make the sale? Or maybe he's as cynical as most screenwriters in town, and knew he could make six figures as soon as he said the word "re-imagining."
It's not the only "Pinocchio"-themed project in the works, but it's easily the least appetizing: Disney has a live action version with the excellent Bryan Fuller ("Pushing Daisies") writing the script, while Guillermo Del Toro is in production on a stop-motion take, with music by Nick Cave. Levy's likely busy with "Frankenstein" for the next couple of years, so we wouldn't expect to see this for a while yet, and he's got a slate of other potential projects as well.