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Puppeteers, Toy Makers and Disney Reps Tout ‘Pinocchio’

26 Jan, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey


BURBANK, Calif. — Cyril Hobbins, a wooden-toy maker from England who doesn’t shy away from the title “the English Geppetto,” is only half joking when he says his life can be called complete.

“I’m on the Pinocchio DVD and Blu-ray. This has made my life worth living,” the 70-year-old said, grinning.

He and other toy makers from around the world pop up in “Geppettos Then and Now,” just one of a slew of bonus features Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has included on the platinum DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases for Pinocchio March 10.

“I saw that on the [DVD cover]: 70th anniversary. I said to myself, ‘It can’t be,’” said 81-year-old Richard “Dickie” Jones, the voice and reference model for Pinocchio. “[The movie] has everything you could possibly imagine. It’s got tragedy, it’s got comedy, spooky stuff, scary stuff. It’s got something for everyone.”

Chris Heatherly, GM and VP of technology and innovation for Disney Toys and Disney Consumer Products, said Pinocchio remains an inspiration for anyone involved with toys.
“I was really honored to be a part of it,” he said of his involvement with the DVD and Blu-ray. “It’s one of my favorite films. For toy makers, it’s very close to our hearts.”

The Disney Toys division even has a Geppetto award that it gives out on an annual basis.
“He’s the patron saint of toy makers,” Heatherly said, adding that the Wall-E toys his division has made are partly inspired by Pinocchio. “We wanted to make them feel as real as possible.”

Disney representatives expressed excitement over the features on the DVD and Blu-ray, including the old features (a never-before-seen “sweat box” screening session transcript with Walt Disney, an alternate ending, a deleted scene in storyboard format, live-action reference footage) and new (the Blu-ray Disney View feature, which frames the film with 16 original watercolor panels created by artist Toby Bluth).

Dave Smith, chief archivist for The Walt Disney Studios, said the home entertainment division did all the digging it could to find new stuff for Pinocchio.

“Every time we put out a DVD of one of our older films, the producers will come to me,” he said. “We get used a lot by home entertainment. … Every time they come to us, they say, ‘What do you have that no one has ever seen before?’ It gets harder as time goes by.”

Bob Baker, master puppeteer who worked with Walt Disney to create displays, produced marionettes for the studio and consulted on the film Bedknobs and Broomsticks, said Pinocchio remains one of his favorite all-time dolls.

“I’ll tell you, once you get bitten by the Disney bug, you’re in trouble,” he said. “I hear it from friends of mine that [the DVD and Blu-ray picture] is just beautiful. … The colors are just stunning. That opening sequence, I haven’t seen anything like it since.

“When you think that [Pinocchio] is all hand-drawn, no computer animation, it’s just amazing.”

Other bonus features include a Pinocchio trivia challenge, an all-new making of featurette, a special viewing option that expands the original aspect ratio, a new “When You Wish Upon a Star” music video, Pinocchio’s Puzzles Game, a pop-up trivia option and more.

Dave Smith, chief studio archivist for The Walt Disney Studios, Jan. 23 shows off some of the studio’s rarer Pinocchio items.


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