Del Toro, Henson Co. To Toy with Stop-Motion Pinocchio

Guillermo Del Toro and The Jim Henson Company have joined forces with Pathe to develop and produce a 3D stop motion animated version of Pinocchio based on the edition of Carlo Collodi’s classic tale illustrated by Gris Grimly.

Press Release from The Jim Henson Company

Hollywood, February 16, 2011 – Guillermo Del Toro and The Jim Henson Company have joined forces with Pathe to develop and produce a 3D stop motion animated version of Pinocchio based on the edition of Carlo Collodi’s classic tale illustrated by Gris Grimly. Grimly will codirect with Mark Gustafson (Animation Director on The Fantastic Mr. Fox). The team plans to move forward with production of the film later in 2011.

In this new version of one of the world’s best-loved tales, the puppet Pinocchio embarks on a series of extraordinary and thrilling adventures, proving himself to be as indestructible as his love for his father.

Del Toro and his frequent collaborator Matthew Robbins have been developing the screen story over the past year, and Robbins wrote the screenplay. Del Toro will produce with Lisa Henson and Jason Lust of The Jim Henson Company and Allison Abbate (The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie). Gary Ungar will serve as executive producer, as will Francois Ivernel and Cameron McCracken for Pathe. Veteran rock musician and film composer Nick Cave will serve as music consultant for the production.

The team will develop the puppets and other 3D elements with UK-based MacKinnon and Saunders, which has performed the same duties on The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie.

“I believe that our tale of Pinocchio recaptures the darker, more daunting aspects of the book that have been missing from previous film incarnations and takes advantage of all the allegorical aspects of the tale. Gris and Mark have a clear vision of this world. Matthew, the directors and I have constructed an adaptation that I feel enormously proud of,” said Guillermo Del Toro.

“Stop motion animation will be a new style of telling this well-known tale, a hand-crafted style with which we were eager to work since it requires a high level of artistry and craftsmanship that is similar to the work of The Jim Henson Company,” said Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company.

“There is a perfect match between the visionary world of Guillermo, the story of Pinocchio and Gris’ wonderful illustrations. The talent and experience of the Henson team will ensure that Gris, Mark and Guillermo’s vision comes to life in the most thrilling way,” said Francois Ivernel, Executive Vice-President, Pathe.

ABOUT GUILLERMO DEL TORODel Toro recently produced the upcoming DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK for Miramax and the Spanish language thriller JULIA'S EYES for Universal Focus. In addition, he is developing a slate of projects as both a producer and director under his first look deal at Universal and has an animation producing deal at DreamWorks Animation. Del Toro is a partner in the new visual media studio, Mirada. He is represented by Exile Entertainment, WME and Hirsch, Wallerstein, Hayum, Matloff and Fishman,LLC.

ABOUT PATHEPathe is a European major involved in all aspects of filmmaking, from development and production through to distribution (in the UK, France and Switzerland) and international sales. Pathe is the leading movie theater chain in France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Recent international successes have ranged from THE QUEEN to BIENVENUE CHEZ LES CH’TIS to SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

ABOUT THE JIM HENSON COMPANYThe Jim Henson Company has remained an established leader in family entertainment for over 50 years and is recognized worldwide as an innovator in puppetry, animatronics and digital animation. Best known as creators of the world famous Muppets, Henson has received over 50 Emmy Awards and nine Grammy Awards. Recent credits include the Emmy® nominated “Sid the Science Kid,” “Dinosaur Train” “Wilson & Ditch: Digging America” and “Pajanimals.” Features include “The Dark Crystal,” “Labyrinth,” “MirrorMask,” and “Unstable Fables” and television productions include “Fraggle Rock” and the sci-fi cult series “Farscape.”

With additional locations in New York and London, The Jim Henson Company is headquartered in Los Angeles on the historic Charlie Chaplin lot, complete with soundstage and postproduction facilities. Independently owned and operated by the five adult children of founder Jim Henson, the Company is also home to Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, a pre-eminent character-building and visual effects group with international film, television and advertising clients, as well as Henson Recording Studios, one of the music industry’s top recording facilities known for its world-class blend of state-of-the-art and vintage equipment.

The Company’s Henson Alternative brand recently launched the New York run of “Stuffed and Unstrung,” a live puppet improvisational show at the Union Square Theatre. http://www.henson.com

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