Mary Poppins has been beloved by Disney aficionados and film buffs alike since its initial theatrical debut way back in 1964. The seminal and timeless musical won plenty of praise when it was released, with a total of thirteen Academy Award nominations in its year (which was an unprecedented record at the time), winning five of them, including Best Actress for the film's star, Julie Andrews. Since the time of the film's release (51 years now), it has been included in United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress (further proving its worth and merit as a product of the Hollywood studio system).
Mary Poppins has been adapted into a Broadway stage musical since then (a Tony-winning one at that), but it seems near unthinkable to imagine anyone perfecting upon the chemistry still held between Andrews and her co-star Dick Van Dyke from the original movie. Nonetheless, in the age of reboots, remakes, and sequels, it seems Disney is ready at last to try doing just that.
Variety is reporting that Chicago director Rob Marshall - who has helmed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and the musical adaptation Into the Woods for Disney in recent years - is now set to helm a Mary Poppins sequel, set twenty years after the original film. The movie will continue to follow the life and times of the eponymous magical nanny, through her adventures with the Banks family.
Into the Woods producers John DeLuca and Marc Platt will reunite with Marshall on the Mary Poppins sequel; it's not official, but all three men's involvement signals that the plan is for this project to be a musical, like its predecessor. Variety also reports that the sequel will draw inspiration from the original Mary Poppins novels by the late P.L. Travers; the author was infamously displeased with both how Disney adapted her work and her treatment during the filmmaking process on the original 1964 movie (a real-life story that was dramatized in the 2013 film, Saving Mr. Banks).
Given Marshall's past success in adapting major Broadway musicals to the big screen to largely favorable reception (see Chicago in particular), Disney likely has the right creative force behind a project as ambitious as the one they have proposed. Disney has enjoyed much commercial success by adapting its classic animated features into modern live-action/CGI features (Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella), but it's refreshing that in this case the project will be a continuation rather than a remake - one that still leaves plenty of room for renovation and re-invention of Mary Poppins' world, via modern filmmaking technology.
Nevertheless it's a little hard to swallow news of a Mary Poppins sequel entirely, sight unseen (cue to "Spoonful of Sugar" jokes). Live-action musicals both animated and live-action alike have always been something that the Mouse House has done well, though, and looks to continue on doing so in the future (be it with the animated Moana or live-action Beauty and the Beast). Who knows, maybe another visit and musical fun with the "Practically Perfect In Every Way" British nanny is just what filmgoers (old and young) didn't know they really needed right now.
We'll bring you more information on the Mary Poppins sequel when we have it.