Some of you may recall that a few years back Guillermo Del Toro had talked about doing a stop motion Pinocchio movie with the Jim Henson Company. Of course, at that point Del Toro was already as well known for attaching himself to as many projects as possible as he was for his filmmaking genius. So there wasn’t necessarily much reason to get overly interested. But I suppose if you attach yourself to twenty projects, one or two of them statistically will wind up happening. Deadline is reporting that such is the case with Pinocchio.

The take on Carlo Collodi’s classic tale was conceived by Del Toro and writer Matthew Robbins (writer of a certain movie about a certain absence of light that you should possibly not be afraid of, produced by a certain founder of a certain website you may be reading at this very moment). Del Toro is just weeks away from getting the greenlight for At the Mountains of Madness (fingers motherfucking crossed), so directing duties shall be shared with children’s book artist Gris Grimly and Fantastic Mr. Fox animation director, Mark Gustafson. It was Grimly’s art for a 2002 edition of Pinocchio which inspired Del Toro to do the film in the first place.

“There has to be darkness in any fairy tale or children’s narrative work, something the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and Walt Disney understood,” del Toro said. “We tend to call something Disney-fied, but a lot of people forget how powerfully disturbing the best animated Disney movies are, including those kids being turned into donkeys in Pinocchio. What we’re trying to do is present a Pinocchio that is more faithful to the take that Collodi wrote. That is more surreal and slightly darker than what we’ve seen before.”

For instance: “the Blue Fairy is really a dead girl’s spirit,” del Toro said. “Pinocchio has strange moments of lucid dreaming bordering on hallucinations, with black rabbits. The sperm whale that swallows Pinocchio was actually a giant dogfish, which allows for more classical scale and design. The many mishaps Pinocchio goes through include several near-death close calls, a lot more harrowing moments. The key with this is not making any of it feel gratuitous, because the story is integrated with moments of comedy and beauty. He’s one of the great characters, whose purity and innocence allows him to survive in this bleak landscape of robbers and thugs, emerging from the darkness with his soul intact.”

Deadline also has a couple concept art pics. Here’s one. Click to embiggen.