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‘Bond’ director Sam Mendes leaves ‘Pinocchio’

Director Sam Mendes poses on stage during an event to mark the start of production for the new James Bond film ‘Spectre’, at Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath December 4, 2014. — Reuters picDirector Sam Mendes poses on stage during an event to mark the start of production for the new James Bond film ‘Spectre’, at Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath December 4, 2014. — Reuters picLOS ANGELES, Nov 15 — Disney’s live-action version of Pinocchio continues its search for a director as Sam Mendes opts to discontinue interest in the project.

Having made his debut with 1999’s Oscar-winning mid-life crisis drama American Beauty, Sam Mendes was linked with Disney’s schedule of live-action fairy tales as recently as May 2017.

But five months on and it looks like the pair are parting ways.

Talks had still been in an early stage, according to industry news site The Tracking Board, which cautions that Mendes’s departure is not linked to the directorial vacancy on 2019’s Bond 25.

Mendes came to the Pinocchio project having previously discussed a live-action adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel James and the Giant Peach.

Chris Weitz, who has writing credits on Antz, Cinderella, and Rogue One, and both wrote and directed American Pie, About a Boy, and The Twilight Saga: New Moon among others, is understood to remain on board Pinocchio as writer and producer.

It numbers among a sequence of live-action remakes that have been gathering momentum since 2010’s Alice in Wonderland.

2014 blockbuster Maleficent (US$758 million or RM3.2 billion worldwide) told the story of Sleeping Beauty with a focus on its villain, 2015 saw the arrival of Cinderella (US$543 million) with The Jungle Book (US$966 million) and Alice Through The Looking Glass (US$299 million) separated by a single 2016 month.

Going into a busy year-end holiday season, "Beauty and the Beast" (2017, $1.2bn) is the year’s highest-grossing movie, and the highest-grossing live action adaptation of all time.

In the works are Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King for 2019, as well as nearly a dozen other movies including Mulan, The Little Mermaid, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and two Peter Pan treatments.

An accomplished stage director, Sam Mendes followed the award-winning American Beauty with acclaimed graphic novel adaptation Road to Perdition, moving on to Jarhead, Revolutionary Road, and Away We Go before two Bond movies in succession, Skyfall and Spectre.

As an executive producer he is involved in the BBC and Amazon Prime 2018 television thriller Informer, starring Paddy Considine, Nabhaan Rizwan and Bel Powley; as a theatre director, he is steering performances of The Ferryman, which runs until May 2018 in London’s West End.

But now that Denis Villeneuve of Arrival and Blade Runner: 2049 has withdrawn himself from contention, choosing to focus on the new Dune remake, and in the absence of any other information, it’s tempting to imagine Mendes following Daniel Craig in a return to the Bond franchise. — AFP-Relaxnews

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