In a move that has movie fans and some industry insiders confused, Slash Film is reporting that writer/director Alex Ross Perry has signed on to write Disney’s live-action Winnie the Pooh film. This has been confusing some people because Perry is pretty much known for his brutal and darkly dramas, like the fantastic Listen Up, Phillip, so he isn’t the first name you associate with a property like Winnie the Pooh. However, given that the director’s choice is to use A.I.: Artificial Intelligence as a template, it might make more sense why Perry has been attached to the project.
The story will pick up with Christopher Robin all grown up, and some event brings him back to Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood. In an interview with Collider, Perry discussed his inspirations for the film, including Steven Spielberg’s 2001 science-fiction drama:
There’s a lot inspired by the relationship between David and Teddy in AI. That’s not really a children’s film at all. Crushingly depressing. But the relationship between human and toy bear in that movie is pretty spot on. And Fantastic Mr. Fox is something I’ve been talking about and thinking about because it has a lot of characters and each one is pretty distinct. It’s a fun movie and it works for a four year old and for a thirty year old. But David and Teddy in AI is the relevant model. We’re looking at Toy Story a lot because that’s a thing about toys that are alive just as Pooh Bear and his friends are all stuffed animals.
Viewers of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence still acutely remember chilling image of Teddy at the bottom of the ocean. It’s a chilling image, and one of the many reasons why A.I.‘s ending isn’t as happy as people claim it is. As for how Perry became involved in Winnie the Pooh, he says he’s been looking to make a children’s film for a while now:
I had been talking about a children’s property I was interested in, which of course seems surprising to everyone. It was just one of the things after Listen Up Phillip that I said to people that I care about. Nothing happened with [the children’s adaptation]; but eight months later, [my agent] randomly called me and said ‘Hey I was on the phone with someone at Disney and they’re trying to get [Winnie the Pooh] going. Do you want to talk with them about it? It’s similar to the thing you were trying to do before.’ I said, ‘Yeah – I will earn that job. I will earn that job the minute they talk to me.
Perry isn’t the first indie writer/director to collaborate with Disney on one of their live-action updates. David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) wrote and directed Pete’s Dragon, and some people might view it as promising to see Disney continuing to work with filmmakers like Lowery and Ross, directors with distinct voices.
Has Disney gone to far with this latest live-action remake? Did they make the right choice by going with an independent writer/director such as Alex Ross Perry? Is this another indication of the “animation to live-action” market becoming overly saturated?
Let us know in the comments below!