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Guillermo del Toro Hammers Final Nail into ‘Pinocchio’ Coffin

Guillermo del Toro, whose latest film (and his proudest personal achievement) The Shape of Water arrives next month, has been attached to more projects over the years than he’s actually ended up making. One of those projects? A dark, 3D stop-motion Pinocchio film geared towards a more adult audience.

Whatever happened to that movie and what was his vision for his own take on the classic tale? Del Toro opened up about the project in a new chat with IGN this week.

It’s not happening,” Del Toro definitively told the site. “But the idea was to do Pinocchio during the ascension of fascism in Italy, with Mussolini. It was a good time to discuss the idea of being a puppet or being a human, but you know, it’s not in progress.”

Del Toro previously detailed the project to EW when it was in active development.

In a strange way, two of the stories that fascinate me the most are kind of related, which is Frankenstein and Pinocchio. They are both about creatures that are created and then get lost in a world they don’t understand,” he said. “And they are both journeys of understanding, and journeys of evolution of the spirit. When we started working on Pinocchio we knew very clearly that we wanted to make it different in the sense that it is not just a fairy tale but a fairy tale that actually moves you and emotionally affects you. It deals with ideas that are relevant to everyone, to all mankind in a way.”

I hesitate to say just darker, because it’s not *just* darker,” Del Toro continued. “It is a tale that is adapted to a more complex reality, more complex ethical questions. It’s more a tale for youth than a tale for just kids. Even the original book and the Disney version are pretty scary. I think the moments where they go to Pleasure Island, even in the original animated movie, it was pretty intense. When I was a kid I was absolutely horrified. It will be much more intense in our version.”

Check out early concept art from the aborted project below.



  • RedNeoCon

    Surprise……………another studio bailing out on Del Toro.

    He is overrated AF.

    • Bart Crowe

      I think Del Toro has his vision on how he wants to do stuff and he ain’t willing to compromise on shit. Studio Execs hate that shit. They want a guy who will kowtow to their every whim like the guys Disney gets to direct their Star Wars and Marvel movies.
      The overrated thing is your opinion and you’re entitled to it, as his movies aren’t for everyone, personally I haven’t hated a single thing Del Toro has directed. I would go so far as to say Pan’s Labyrinth might be my favorite movie.

      • ClarkNova4

        I have to say that I agree with the op- Del Toro is not a bad director but definitely overrated. Ironically for me its very obvious that he tries way too hard to find mainstream appeal. His narratives are formulaic / simplistic and lose my interest because of that. He is only really good when going full art house like Cronos / Devils Backbone and Pans Labyrinth. His attempts to become mainstream are boresome displays of lame tropes and his weird obsession of being like Tim Burton doesn’t make any sense.

      • RedNeoCon

        I thoroughly enjoyed Pans Labyrinth. Hell, I own the blu ray.

        Del Toro is victim to a genre that doesn’t truly love him back. Hellboy 1 & 2 are fantastic…….but the box failed. Thus, why he wasn’t allowed to do Mountains of Madness. There was no way they were going to let him handle the Hobbit trilogy. Shit like Pacific Rim keeps him afloat because it did so well in Asia (surprise) and totally tanked in the USA. Look, I’m all for the long rumored bit of him doing Justice League Dark or Swamp Thing, but at some point the “Del Toro is a genius” crowd makes me nuts. Shape of Water is going to track badly and end up as Crimson Peak 2.0. I mean, it opens a week before Star Wars.

        • Bart Crowe

          You’re right we should only enjoy movies based off box office success and not on their quality.

          • RedNeoCon

            Sustained box office recipes traditionally indicate something is good. Especially if the domestic is high and sustaining.

    • HeWaTcHeSnOeYeS

      He really is, I can’t say a single one of his movies is anything above a 6/10, most of his movies feel very, very mixed.
      He’s one of the more overrated directors of the decade, but this project was the one thing I was looking forward to seeing grow.
      Oh well.

    • Baron Von Marlon

      Good director, just not a good writer.

  • Pikachu


  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    Del Toro and his cursed proyects, what a shame

  • This guy developes so many projects at a time to begin with that many of them either won’t happen or will happen without his involvement.

  • CelticBull

    I really hope Shape of Water is as good as people say, I’ve had it with all the announced and dying projects of his. Last thing I liked and that actually got made, was Hellboy 2 – 10 years ago.
    Other directors and producers constantly put out movies and shows and are dying in an uphill battle, but Guillermo can just announce an interesting project, just to drop it a year or two later.

  • Roman Hinton

    Hopefully when Guillermo Del Toro comes back from his year off this Pinocchio comes back in development! Ive been waiting for a long time. I feel like these darker stop motion movies (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline, The Shadow King, and Pinocchio) dont get enough credit!!!

    • Unfortunately, Del Toro likes to get involved with too many “in development” projects for every one of them to see the light of day (at least, with him at the helm). Then again, his ambition is probably part of why he’s so talented. There is a strong possibility this won’t happen, but we’ll have to see.

    • Will Schuster

      Didn’t The Shadow King get canceled like 4 years ago?

      • Roman Hinton

        Sadly yes. If you look it up you can see some of the images from the movie

  • Papa_spoosh

    Yeah. It’s definitely del toros fault. Couldn’t possibly be the studio execs that she’ll put 50+ million to make the same safe bullshit movie year over year. I hope after he gets the praise he deserves this year, he is free to make all of the projects he wants without compromise. I get annoyed that his shit falls through too but I bet no one is more annoyed than him. He’s had many passion projects crushed

    • Roman Hinton

      I agree.
      Love guillermo del toro movies. I feel like he over loads himself with projects

      • Rez

        That is his big problem he attaches himself to so many projects that there is no way all of them are going to be made. This is the one I really wanted to see….too bad!

  • Mike tantatelli

    Too bad. With him behind it, I bet it would have been damn cool. Bummer.

  • Jonathan Larsson

    Del Toro has the ability to make anything look good. If he would’ve gotten his hands on this, we may have gotten one of the most beautiful looking animated film since Kubo.

  • Jeremy Stewart

    This is painful especially because del Toro got Patrick McHale to co write the script, who was perfect for this.

  • sedoi

    This artstyle really beatiful. Real shame that I won’t see it 🙁

  • James

    This doesn’t get made, but they keep making Transformers movies, Sad!

    • Saturn

      Indeed, and the next Transformers will pull in much more than Del Toro’s next movie. As James Hetfield would say : Sad But Ture.

    • Fufv rur45

      Yea, because shit movies keep getting made to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Same story w a few tweaks. Transformers are garbage. Furthest from the original source material. I love the transformers btw. The G1 originals. They dropped the ball. Fast and furious another prime example of shit films. No more original thoughts or ideas from pedowood. Fkn shame del toro cant get this made. More unique films come along, but usually independent films. Im still annoyed about Hellboy 3.

    • Joshua Martyniouk

      Hollywood unfortunately loves Bay and explosions of cash!

  • Saturn

    In a perfect world Del Toro would team up with Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna and Jeffrey Combs for an HP Lovecraft anthology show.
    Those 4 talents (with Combs playing the lead in each episode) could do something special, potentially.
    Maybe throw in the odd Poe episode into the mix too.

    • biff

      That’s a killer idea — I’d also love to see Cronenberg and Carpenter take on Lovecraft as well. An don’t forget about Barbara Crampton — I’d love to see her and Combs together again.

      • ClarkNova4

        Carpenter took on Lovecraftian film as good as humanly possible already. People don’t have to look further than The Thing, Prince of Darkness and Mouth of Madness. Concept-wise Mouth of Madness being the pinnacle since it goes full meta and elevates Lovecraft to a level much profounder than the actual novels. Carpenter did all that could be done with that. Cronenberg literally IS the modern psychology obsessed version of Lovecraft. It would be extremely weird for him to adapt Lovecraft since its the polar opposite of his own work.

        • biff

          Good points there. It’s just that more than most filmmakers Carpenter got Lovecraft, that fear of the all-consuming unknown. And Cronenberg is one of the few artists with faculties in both character and conceptual development to realize the Lovecraftian landscape. Just wistful thinking on my part, more than anything.

          • ClarkNova4

            Agree. I think that The Fly is the closest we will ever get from Cronenberg regarding to that. The fear of the ‘other’ invading our space is a clear theme in it. Its the essence of Lovecraft, what you called the fear the unknown. In fact I consider nothing Lovecraft wrote as an unknown, it seems contradictory to me in a literal sense. Didnt Lovecraft write an extensive origin (prequel) story called the Mountains of Madness in which he explains absolutely everything? This is when I realised that its not the unknown that terrifies but ironically the knowledge of our monopoly as occupants of ‘our space’ being challenged on the physical and psychological level (see also The Thing, Scanners etc). I would even go so far to say that if you cut out the explanations from the films I mentioned they would be a little less scary for most. Those ‘revelations’ are important to set up that universal terror or otherwise the casual viewer will not understand the full reach of what is presented unless its cleverly hinted at in metaphors and allegories. But this is far more easier said than done I fear.

          • biff

            Nicely put — it’s more the fear of what had been unknown and then revealed, setting off a journey into fear or madness, the realization that one is only a speck on a cosmic scale. That’s what gets me the most, the enormity, like when you stare up into a night sky and begin to feel like you’re sliding off the face of the earth.

          • ClarkNova4

            Yes that is a good description as well! And it supports my argument that the unknown doesn’t really hold much dread because the mind has nothing to work with (its a gloomy feeling at worst). One could argue that the Lovecraftian style triggers a mechanism that creates the fear of the unknown beyond that which has been de-occulted. But my mind has a bit of a hard time to decide if that makes actual sense at all within works of fiction. It would be akin to develop fiction paranoia which is a very strange idea in itself since paranoia is already fictional haha

    • Baron Von Marlon

      I like the Re-Animator movies and Dagon but I’d a prefer another style of direction for HPL adaptations.

  • DukeStKing

    Del Toro suffering Tim Burton backlash. Inevitable.

  • Michael Josef Kappel

    It’s a shame so many of his projects always get canned. I’m still salty over Silent Hills, fuck Konami

    • Chance LeBoeuf

      I will never get over the pain of Silent Hills slippng away. It could have reinvigorated that franchise. I believe that.

      I know some people tell me to get over Silent Hill because it actually had only like, 2 and a half great games in its rather large library and while that may be true, they don’t understand that when Silent Hill was good, it was THAT good.

      That’s why it still hurts.

  • I Am Colossus

    The best director without any cool material coming out ever….

    • Chance LeBoeuf

      Pacific Rim was really cool. The Shape of Water looks pretty cool. He still gets some out there but yes, he is a great film maker who has to settle on having just an amazing “Almost made it” filmography because he can’t seem to secure the means to complete his visions. This Pinocchio sounded very neat with some great looking art direction to boot.

      Also, we’ll still spend days day-dreaming about his take on “At the Mountains of Madness”


  • Chance LeBoeuf

    I’ll say it again: Guillermo Del Toro has the best “Almost Made It” filmography ever.

    • Joshua Martyniouk

      Hope he doesn’t do that with the nightmarish book series he is turning into a movie!

  • Pikachu

    Del Toro leaves….
    Hobbit-Gets made
    Pacific Rim 2-Gets made
    New Hellboy movie-Gets made
    You can come back at me about quality but his film arent that great in my opinion, awesome imaginative with practical effects but not great.

    • ClarkNova4

      Yes. His art house stuff is actually pretty good but his attempts at mainstream are formulaic and shallow

  • sarox

    Can I just give a shout out to Gris Grimly. The art for this is his, not Del Toro.

  • Alanmac

    But I was so looking forward to Del Toro talking about Pinocchio being his “proudest personal achievement” that he “can’t believe he was able to make”.

  • Let’s be honest. Great concept and idea but this one would have flopped so bad.

  • Pumpkin Witch

    This would’ve been so awesome! Too bad it won’t be happening. The movie industry just seems opposed to original ideas most of the time.

    • Saint of Killers

      I still wouldn’t call another Pinocchio movie an original idea. Although Shape of Water seems to be inspired by Creature from Black Lagoon, it can be called an original idea since it is starring a different monster.

      • Pumpkin Witch

        True, “Pinocchio” is not a new story or new innovative idea, del Toro’s approach however, was very unique. It would’ve been set in fascist Italy under Mussolini’s reign. To me that sounds really interesting.
        It’s similar for The Shape of Water. It’s set during the Cold War and tells the story of an inter-species relationship between a disabled woman and a “creature”. That alone makes it incredibly interesting and grants the execution so much potential.

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    A Pinocchio movie with Del Toro would be awesome!
    Too bad it’s not happening.


    What a great concept! Bummed it’s not gonna happen

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