The film would mark a reunion with Tim Burton — their first project together since 1992’s “Batman Returns.”
Ehren Kruger penned the script. Justin Springer, who worked on “Tron: Legacy,” is producing with Kruger.
The original story followed an ostracized baby circus elephant who strives to achieve his full potential. If a deal closes, Keaton would play the man who acquirers the circus from DeVito’s character in order to exploit the lovable elephant and his mother.
The studio’s emphasis on live-action reboots follows the hits “Maleficent,” “Cinderella,” “The Jungle Book,” and most recently, “Beauty and the Beast.” The Mouse House has remakes of “The Lion King,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Mulan,” and other animated classics in the works as well.
Keaton is in the midst of a career renaissance that began with his Oscar-nominated role in 2014’s “Birdman,” but he first achieved movie stardom nearly 30 years ago in Burton’s “Beetlejuice.” Burton then tapped him to play the Caped Crusader in “Batman,” putting both men on Hollywood’s A-list.
The two talents have not worked together since leaving the “Batman” franchise following “Batman Returns,” but have been looking for a film to team up on for quite some time, including a possible “Beetlejuice” sequel.
The role marks another villainous turn for the former superhero, who is set to play Spider-Man’s arch nemesis Vulture in the upcoming “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
Keaton also recently starred in “The Founder” as McDonald’s mogul Ray Kroc and as journalist “Robby” Robinson in “Spotlight.” “Birdman” and “Spotlight” won back-to-back best picture Oscars.
He is repped by ICM Partners.