At the time of this writing, it’s been a month since word got out that Disney has a new Mary Poppins film in the works. With the continuos bombardment of remakes and reboots, the new movie probably looks suspiciously like a remake more than sequel, even though it’s been described as something closer to the latter.
The movie is to be directed by Rob Marshall, who’s fresh off making the generally well-received Into the Woods Broadway musical film adaptation for Disney. The Chicago director is a natural choice for this new Mary Poppins, which is also going to be a musical with all new songs (with Smash‘s Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman onboard as the songwriters).
Marshall, speaking to Vulture at the 2015 National Arts Awards, offered assurances that his Mary Poppins film is not, in fact, a remake in any sense of the Oscar-winning 1964 film:
“It is not a new Mary Poppins. P.L. Travers wrote eight books all together. They worked from the first book, and we are working from the other books, not touching the iconic brilliance of Mary Poppins. This is an extension. I’m a huge fan of the original, and I’m a very good friend of Julie Andrews, and I hold it in such awe. There is all this new material — it was the Harry Potter of its time — and they were never turned into anything further than that adventure.”
Julie Andrews won’t be playing the iconic magical British nanny in Marshall’s film (what with so many years having passed since the first Mary Poppins), but the director says he would love for her to still be involved in some capacity:
“She is a very dear friend, and if she could be involved in some way, it would be very special. I know she is very happy that we’re doing it and, after 50 years, feels that it is time.”
According to Vulture, Marshall’s Mary Poppins film will pick up in 1934: some twenty-four years after Mary Poppins (1964) took place, but around the same time that Travers wrote the original books in real life. Other Poppins adventures by Travers follow Miss Poppins as she has more adventures with the Banks family at 17 Cherry Tree Lane – and that is reportedly going to also be the case with Marshall’s movie. Either way, it sounds as though this film will carry over the whimsical tone of its predecessor (something the real Travers wouldn’t have liked – see Saving Mr. Banks for more on that).
The original Mary Poppins film wasn’t only beloved, but also the winner of five Academy Awards (out of 13 nominations)- including Best Actress for Julie Andrews. It was also included in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. With a legacy like that, every choice of Marshall’s film will be scrutinized. The casting, look, and tone will need to be perfect without trying to seem like a carbon copy of the iconic original. We’ll have to wait and see how the movie does in that regard… but having nostalgia on its side shouldn’t hurt.
We’ll bring you more information on the upcoming Mary Poppins film when we have it.