While Disney has made some changes in their release roll out amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the media juggernaut is still moving full speed ahead with new projects coming to Disney+. One of these is the upcoming live-action remake of the classic Pinocchio, which will bypass theaters entirely to premiere solely on the streaming service. The film will be directed by the legendary Robert Zemeckis and star his frequent collaborator Tom Hanks as Geppetto. Deadline also reports that Luke Evans has joined the film as the villainous Coachman.
In the original film, the Coachman is responsible for luring wayward boys to Pleasure Island, where they are turned into donkeys. This isn't the first time that Evans has portrayed an iconic Disney villain, stepping into Gaston's boots for the 2017's live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. Evans told Harper's Bazaar at the time that he had a lot of reverence for bringing such a recognizable character to life while also putting his own spin on things.
"It's a role you want to take on and own," said Evans. "You want it to be yours and you want people to remember your version of it. I find it a challenge and I find it quite an honor to bring something to life that's already been imagined in so many people's minds."
The 2017 film went on to earn over $1 billion at the box office and even spawned a limited prequel series starring Evans for Disney+. The untitled series will reunite Evans with this Beauty and the Beast costar Josh Gad for six musical episodes chronicling the characters' adventures before the events of the film. No release date has been announced at this time.
As Disney adjusts to COVID-related challenges to their business model, they are putting more and more stock in Disney+'s success. When Disney announced the Pinocchio remake at the Disney Investor Day 2020 presentation, they also revealed that a Peter Pan remake titled Peter Pan and Wendy will head directly to Disney+. Peter Pan and Wendy will star grown-ish actress Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell and Jude Law as Captain Hook. David Lowery, who helmed the underrated remake of Disney's Pete's Dragon, will direct the film.
These live-action remakes have become essential to the Disney model, and the media giant had some success with Mulan premiering on Disney+ instead of in theaters. In a time when watching at home is the only safe option, it makes sense that Disney seems to be completely switching gears to keep up.