Roberto Benigni’s ‘Pinocchio’ Acquired by Roadside Attractions

Director Matteo Garrone’s Italian-language film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival this year

“Pinocchio,” from Italian auteur Matteo Garrone and starring Roberto Benigni as Geppetto, has been acquired for U.S. distribution by Roadside Attractions.

The film — yet another take on the classic fable of the boy puppet — premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and has already been released internationally. Roadside has yet to announce a U.S. release date.

Garrone’s “Pinocchio” is not to be confused with Disney’s plan for an upcoming live-action reboot or Guillermo Del Toro’s own dark take on the fantasy. Garrone’s version stars 9-year-old Federico Ielapi as Pinocchio, who magically comes to life and dreams of becoming a real boy, only to be led from one misadventure to another as he is tricked, kidnapped and chased by bandits through a wonderful world full of imaginative creatures – from the belly of a giant fish, to the Land Of Toys and the Field Of Miracles.

“I am very happy and proud that our Pinocchio can finally meet the American public thanks to such a prestigious distributor as Roadside Attractions,” Garrone said in a statement. “I hope that, as has already happened in Italy, Pinocchio brings together families and audiences of all ages in front of the big screen, and transports them from today’s reality to a parallel world, where the real is fused with the magical in one of the world’s most beautiful and spectacular fairy tales.”

Garrone, who is known for “Gomorrah,” “Dogman” and “Tale of Tales,” co-wrote the screenplay with Massimo Ceccherini based on Carlo Collodi’s original 1883 novel.

Garrone teamed up with director of photography Nicolai Brüel, production designer Dimitri Capuani, costume designer Massimo Cantini Parrini and editor Marco Spoletini. The character design of Oscar-winning makeup artist Mark Coulier brought Pinocchio and his friends to life, while composer Dario Marianelli wrote the original score. Visual effects were created by Rachael Penfold and her team at One Of Us.

Producers on “Pinocchio” are Archimede’s Matteo Garrone, Le Pacte’s Jean and Ann-Laure Labadie, Recorded Picture Company’s Jeremy Thomas and Rai Cinema’s Paolo Del Brocco. Executive producers are Alessio Lazzareschi, Peter Watson and Marie-Gabrielle Stewart.

“‘Pinocchio’ is one of the most cherished tales, loved by families worldwide.  We were knocked out by the otherworldly beauty and the ingenious storytelling of Matteo’s film, and are thrilled to bring audiences old and new such a fresh, mischievous and thrilling adventure,” Roadside Attractions’ co-presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff said in a statement.

Benigni stars as Geppetto this time, after he directed and starred as the puppet in his own adaptation of “Pinocchio” from 2002. Benigni said in a statement, “I am truly happy that the American distributor Roadside Attractions loved Matteo Garrone’s ‘Pinocchio.’ This is excellent news for our cinema and for this film that I also love very much — a film full of imagination and hope, so wonderfully Italian, a story which for more than a century has enchanted, amused and moved people of all ages all over the world.”

The deal was negotiated by Roadside’s Cohen and HanWay Films’ Gabrielle Stewart.