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‘Dogman’ Team Gears Up for ‘Pinocchio’ (EXCLUSIVE) 

HanWay Films has worldwide rights to the $20m Italian-language movie

A live-action film version of Carlo Collodi’s classic tale “Pinocchio” to be helmed by Italian director Matteo Garrone is back on, and in pre-production with a mid-November start date. Garrone will helm and Jean Labadie, and HanWay Films founder Jeremy Thomas produce. HanWay will sell internationally outside Italy and France. The on-off project sees the director-producer pair reunite after “Tale of Tales” and this year’s “Dogman,” the urban western that plays in competition at Cannes.

Pinocchio” was put on hiatus while Garrone and Thomas were on “Dogman” but it is now going ahead. Mark Coulier of Coulier Creatures is on board for character design and prosthetics. A double Oscar and BAFTA-winner, he replaces Nick Dudman who was set to for an earlier version of the project. Rachel Penfold and her company One of Us, which worked on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” will handle VFX. Casting is under way on the Italian-language picture. There are no confirmed names as yet.

Thomas said Garrone “directs on instinct” and has an improvisational approach to filmmaking. “It’s enjoyable as a producer to come into that,” he noted. Speaking about “Dogman,” he said of Garrone: “He is loved by Cannes. This has smells of ‘Gomorrah’ in it, and that’s one thing that’s attractive and I think dangerous about the film. It has themes of westerns, with an urban setting. Although it’s strong it’s also quite sensitive.”

Garrone’s Archimede Productions, Jeremy Thomas and Jean Labadie are teaming on the new live-action adaptation. HanWay Films has worldwide rights for the film. RAI Cinema has partnered for Italy, and Le Pacte will release the film in France.

The team behind the Italian movie is staying true to the original written work. “It’s very different from the Disney film, the Collodi book was many stories put into a book and a commentary of the day put in a metaphorical way and the film is based on that,” Thomas said. “It’s a horror story for kids. This is a representation of the original book rather than an animated popularization of it.”

“The basic idea is to tell the Pinocchio story going back to the book’s origins,” added Garrone, who wrote the screenplay. “The challenge is to tell the story that everybody thinks they know; but actually very few do, because there are very few people who have actually read Collodi’s book.”

He said the challenge is to make a film based on the classic book that is relevant to the present day. “There are many parts of the book that surprised me … the idea is to return to a certain atmosphere of the world that Collodi described at the end of the 19th century,” Garrone said. “It’s a peasant world; a world of poverty, where there is plenty of violence. In a certain sense I think the Pinocchio story remains very actual and universal.”

The shoot will take in the village of Collodi, birthplace of the author, as well as various southern Italian locations.

Disney is in the throes of making a live-action version of “Pinocchio” with Paul King (“Paddington 2”) tipped to direct. With a second-half 2019 release the Garrone version will land first. One will be a film costing $20 million and one a lot more and “they will be very different animals,” Thomas said. “‘Tale of Tales’ was lavish in its look and locations and Italy offers up incredible locations and space to make a film in, and that is a special weapon for us.”

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