Oscar winner Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful) has been set to star as Geppetto in Gomorrah and Dogman director Matteo Garrone’s live action version of Pinocchio.

Garrone will direct his own screenplay, an adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s classic about a living puppet who with the help of a cricket as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy. Geppetto is the puppet’s creator. Benigni wrote, directed as starred as the title character in a 2002 live-action version of Pinocchio.

The film is an international co-production between Italy and France, produced by Matteo Garrone’s Archimede Films, Rai Cinema and Jean Labadie’s Le Pacte, with Jeremy Thomas’ Recorded Picture Company. HanWay Films reps world rights. Rai Cinema will release the film in Italy, and Le Pacte in France. Shooting starts in the first quarter of 2019 on location in Italy across Lazio, Tuscany and Puglia.

The animals and creatures will be created blending prosthetics make-up and VFX by Mark Coulier, two-time Oscar winner for The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Iron Lady, in collaboration with VFX Supervisor Rachael Penfold (The Revenant).

Garrone said, “Filming Pinocchio and directing Roberto Benigni are two dreams come true in one film. Collodi’s puppet and I have been chasing each other since I was a child, drawing my first storyboards. As years passed, I have always felt something familiar in the story, as if Pinocchio had penetrated my imagination to such an extent that many have found traces of his adventures in my previous films. Also with Roberto it’s a chase that started many years ago: I met him as a child, thanks to my father (theatre critic Nico Garrone, one of the first to write about Benigni at the start of his career). It’s an extraordinary chance for me to have the opportunity of finally working together with Roberto. Pinocchio will be a film for families, big and small, and there’s no one like Roberto, who has amused and moved millions of spectators across the world, and is able to touch an audience of all ages. I want to thank him for the trust that he has shown accepting to share with me this new and daring adventure.”

Benigni added, “A great character, a great story, a great director: playing Geppetto directed by Matteo Garrone is one of the forms of happiness.”

Toni Servillo was previously aboard for the role of Geppetto. Guillermo Del Toro has a stop-motion version of the classic tale with Netflix.