Tom Hanks up for Geppetto Role in Disney’s Live-Action ‘Pinocchio’

Forrest Gump and Toy Story star Tom Hanks is in early talks to portray Geppetto in Disney’s live-action Pinocchio re-imagining, Variety reports.

The fatherly toymaker, longing for a son, wishes for his puppet creation to come to life. When the magical Blue Fairy grants his request, Geppetto’s wooden puppet must then embark on a dangerous journey with appointed conscious Jiminy Cricket, who helps Pinocchio in his quest to become a real boy.

The Pinocchio re-imagining is Disney’s first live-action spin on the 1940 animated classic produced by Walt Disney, the second feature length film brought to life by the studio after 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Paul King (Paddington, Paddington 2) is set to direct following the departure of Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Spectre). King directs from a script he penned with Paddington screenwriter Simon Farnaby and Chris Weitz (Cinderella, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story).

Pinocchio is the latest live-action spin on an animated Disney classic being planned by the studio following Cinderella, The Jungle Book and billion dollar-plus-grosser Beauty and the Beast. Set for release in 2019 are upcoming re-imaginings Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King.

Disney is next eyeing live-action re-dos for seminal animated classic The Little Mermaid — possibly with Spider-Man star Zendaya in the lead role — and Mulan, now being readied for a March 2020 debut.

The LEGO Movie producer Dan Lin and Aladdin producer Jonathan Eirich have since been recruited to put together a live-action and CGI-blend Lilo & Stitch for the studio, which intends to update The Sword in the Stone and Peter Pan as it mines its catalogue of cherished animated classics to find new life on the big screen.

Disney also has its live-action-slash-CG-animated Lady and the Tramp set to debut on its premiere streaming service, Disney+, sometime after that service launches in 2019.

King’s Pinocchio isn’t the only re-imagining of the classic Carlo Collodi fairy tale in the works: Hellboy and The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro will write, produce and direct a stop-motion film for Netflix, while Avengers star Robert Downey Jr. has long been attached to portray Geppetto for a Warner Bros.-produced Pinocchio.

That long-stalled project last had Solo: A Star Wars Story helmer Ron Howard in its director’s chair after Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, The Master) signed on as writer. Howard boarded the project in 2016.

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Disney is likely to beat Warner Bros. to the punch as it did with 2016’s Jon Favreau-directed The Jungle Book, which beat out Andy Serkis’ live-action Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, which Warner Bros. will issue directly to Netflix in December.

A release date for Pinocchio has yet to be announced.