After it was first reported he was in negotiations to direct a live-action take on Pinocchio back in May, Academy Award winner Sam Mendes has departed the project. Pinocchio is another in a long line of classic Disney cartoons that the studio is adapting to live-action, following in the footsteps of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and The Jungle Book.
The news comes from The Tracking Board, who reports that his exit is not connected with a possible return for the director to the James Bond franchise. With an opening in his schedule, though, it’s something that could still happen. Mendes helmed the previous two Bond installments, Skyfall and Spectre. With the next Bond film, the 25th in the franchise, expected to be the final outing for Daniel Craig as the iconic secret agent, Mendes directing would certainly be a fitting end. That said, he previously said he was ready to move on from the franchise.
While his leaving Pinocchio is a setback for the movie, chances are his role will be filled quickly. As it stands, Disney’s live-action adaptations of its own cartoons have managed to attract some very high-profile directors. Guy Ritchie is currently filming Aladdin, while Tim Burton is adapting Dumbo. Jon Favreau, who previously directed the live-action The Jungle Book, will next tackle a new take on The Lion King. Additionally, Niki Caro (The Zookeeper’s Wife) will direct an adaptation of Mulan and Marc Forster (World War Z) is currently filming Christopher Robin, which follows the fictional character an adult when Winnie the Pooh and his imaginary friends re-enter his life.
There’s a long list of live-action projects in development at Disney. While chances are some may not come to life, there are others that seem like a lock for eventual production–including The Little Mermaid.