When Disney first released their adaptation of PL Travers’ novel Mary Poppins in 1964, few could have predicted the success it would find. Aside from being nominated for a total of 13 Academy Awards and winning 5, the film created a character so iconic that today, some 53 years on, even the sight of the Mary Poppins silhouette is instantly associated with Disney.
Considering that so many one time big hits are frequently remade, rebooted or expanded into successful franchises, Disney’s recent decision to bring Mary Poppins back for a new generation is anything but unexpected. To date we’ve had bits and pieces of the plot explained as well as an ongoing list of the star studded cast. Titled Mary Poppins Returns, the new film will not be a remake of the original, but a sequel to the 1964 box office smash.
Now thanks to a press release from Walt Disney Studios, we’ve been provided with the most amount of information on the upcoming sequel to date. Aside from officially commencing production at Shepperton Studios in London, the full cast has also been revealed. Emily Blunt (The Girl on the Train) will star as Mary Poppins, alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda (Moana), Ben Whishaw (Spectre), Emily Mortimer (Hugo), Julie Walters (Harry Potter series), Colin Firth (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), Dick Van Dyke (star of the original Mary Poppins), Pixie Davies (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), Nathanael Saleh (Game of Thrones) and newcomer Joel Dawson.
In addition to its impressive cast, Mary Poppins Returns will be directed by Oscar-nominated helmsman Rob Marshall (Chicago) with a screenplay by two-time Oscar nominee David Magee (Life of Pi, Finding Neverland). While the original Mary Poppins focused on PL Travers’ book of the same name, Mary Poppins Returns contains elements from all 7 Mary Poppins books written by Travers between 1935 and 1988. The story is set in 1930s London and sees Michael (Whishaw) and Jane (Mortimer) as adults with families of their own. When Michael suffers a personal tragedy, Mary Poppins (Blunt) returns to raise spirits and lend a helping hand. Poppins’ return also introduces street lamplighter Jack (Miranda) as well as her cousin, Topsy (Streep).
Initially, the idea of a new Mary Poppins film seemed to be dismissed by many as a “why bother” sort of effort. Could any new Mary Poppins film match the whimsy and charm of the original? What’s more, Mary Poppins has 5 Oscars to its name – a feat that will require no small amount of effort and luck to out do. But as filming begins and we continue to gain a clearer understanding of exactly what this sequel will be, it’s starting to look increasingly like something that could perform well with audiences and critics alike.
Sure, there’s no guarantee that Mary Poppins Returns will secure itself a special spot in Disney’s already impressive cannon of films, but if it does perform well, there’s every reason to believe that this is only the beginning. As previously stated, PL Travers authored 7 Poppins books in her career, meaning that there’s still plenty more subject matter for a franchise to capitalize on if need be.
Mary Poppins Returns will be released in U.S. theaters on December 25, 2018.
Source: Walt Disney Pictures