The film itself is about moving out of a very difficult situation and finding joy and wonder in a dark time, and Mary Poppins is the key to that.
53-years ago Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins changed the world. In Mary Poppins Returns, an all new original musical and sequel, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss.
If you want to understand how Walt Disney spun his magic, and take a closer look at his 30-year-quest to get the rights to the Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers, you have to get yourself the Blu-Ray double disc that includes a fully restored and remastered 50th Anniversary Edition of Mary Poppins, as well as Saving Mr. Banks, the fantastic untold true story about the origins of one of the most treasured Disney Classics of all time.
The bonus features includes interviews and insightful behind the scenes features.
Directed by Rob Marshall from a screenplay by David Magee and a screen story by Magee & Rob Marshall & John DeLuca based upon the Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers, Mary Poppins Returns features all new original songs with music by Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman.
More than 80 years ago, author PL Travers created a world where magical things could happen in ordinary life, and for director Rob Marshall, right now is the perfect time to have audiences enter that world again. “This is clearly a delicate time for the world,” he says. “People feel unsure and vulnerable so it’s important to have something that can lift us out of our day-to-day existence and remind us that there is still magic and wonder in the world.”
An all new original film musical, Mary Poppins Returns evokes the magic and spirit of the first film while providing new delightful music and high-flying adventures to make for a thoroughly enchanting film-going experience.
“The fun, the magic, the optimism, the hope and the innocence that Mary Poppins brings are the same things we’re looking for in our lives today,” says producer Marc Platt. “We want to be uplifted and transported and entertained. We want to be moved. We want to laugh and we want to cry. And ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ delivers all that.”
But the film is not just for children…In the words of Walt Disney himself, it is “for the child in all of us.”
Set in Depression-era London (when the books were originally written), Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw), now a grown man with a family of his own, has taken a temporary job with Fidelity Fiduciary Bank in London, the same financial institution that employed his father and grandfather before him. He lives with his three children, Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) at 17 Cherry Tree Lane, but times are tough. The city is in the midst of “The Great Slump” so money is tight and the accompanying stress, unavoidable. On top of that, the family is struggling to cope with the recent death of Michael’s wife, and the house is rundown and in a constant state of chaos.
As Michael’s relationship with his children continues to deteriorate, the bank’s suspiciously congenial and seemingly altruistic Mr. Wilkins (Colin Firth) begins foreclosure proceedings on the Banks’ home, sending the already frazzled Michael into a further tailspin.
Fortunately, the wind begins to change, and Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt), the practically-perfect nanny whose unique magical skills can turn any ordinary task into a fantastic adventure, enters their lives once again, having not aged a single day.
She teams up with an old friend, Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), a charming and eternally optimistic lamplighter, and together they take the Banks’ children on a series of whimsical adventures and introduce them to colorful characters like Mary’s eccentric cousin, Topsy (Meryl Streep), bringing life, love and laughter back into their home
Walt Disney Studios has worked with the filmmakers in the past, having collaborated on “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” in 2011 (with Rob Marshall as director and John DeLuca as executive producer) and in 2014 on “Into the Woods” (with Marshall as director and DeLuca, Marshall and Marc Platt as producers). Looking to re-team on another project, the studio suggested a sequel to one of its most treasured titles, “Mary Poppins,” based on the wealth of material found in PL Travers’ seven additional books. The 1964 classic is a personal favorite of all three filmmakers, and it soon became clear that Marshall should direct.
“’Mary Poppins’ was the first film I saw as a child and it opened up my mind to movies and to the love of musicals, adventure and fantasy in film,” says the Oscar nominated and Emmy and DGA Award winning Marshall. “I was truly humbled and honored to be asked by Disney to bring PL Travers’ further adventures to the screen. It has always been my dream to conceive an original musical specifically for film, and this was my chance to create an homage to the classic movie musicals of my youth.”
A stage director and choreographer who has also directed and choreographed the successful screen adaptations of “Chicago,” “Nine” and “Into the Woods,” Marshall knows how to construct a musical. Citing “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Meet Me in St. Louis” and “Cabaret” as some of his favorite film musicals, he understands both the world of film and the world of Broadway musicals in a unique and personal way.
“There is a classic nature to the telling of ‘Mary Poppins.’ It requires the essence of classical musical film-making but at the same time needs to be contemporary and feel very alive and very in the moment,” says two-time Oscar®-nominated and Emmy® winning producer Marc Platt (“La La Land,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Grease Live!”). “Rob is a master at mixing all of that up. He’s meticulous in his approach and goes for the gold every time…he doesn’t settle. He finds the magic in every frame, in every scene, in every musical number.”
Platt continues, “More importantly, Rob brings actors to life. He brings their performance to life because he gives his actors confidence and creates an environment in which they’re able to do their best work.”
Author PL Travers first introduced the no-nonsense nanny to the world in 1934 with her children’s book “Mary Poppins,” and over the next 50 years wrote seven more books featuring a myriad of magical adventures with the enigmatic governess (“Mary Poppins Comes Back,” “Mary Poppins Opens the Door,” “Mary Poppins in the Park,” among others). Travers’ books are written more as a series of vignettes as opposed to having one ongoing narrative, and “Mary Poppins Returns” is drawn from the wealth of material in these additional books.
“It was obvious there were many more stories to be told,” Marshall confirms, “and once we read all the books we realized we could find a different way in. Most importantly, by emphasizing Travers’ recurring theme that as we become adults, we become disillusioned and cynical and forget how to look at life through a child’s eyes.”
Two-time Academy Award® nominee David Magee (Life of Pi, Finding Neverland) came on board to draft the screenplay, creating a completely new narrative set 24 years after the first film which revolves around Michael and Jane, the children from “Mary Poppins,” as adults.
David Magee is a screenwriter whose first film, Finding Neverland, went on to receive seven Academy Award nominations, including one for best adapted screenplay. Other nominations for Magee’s screenplay include a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, a London Film Critics’ Circle Award and the Humanitas Prize. His second film, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, starred Frances McDormand and Amy Adams. Magee’s third film, Life of Pi, directed by Ang Lee, received 11 Academy Award nominations, including one for best adapted screenplay. Other nominations for the screenplay included a second BAFTA nomination and a Writers Guild Award, and in 2013 Magee was honored by UCLA’s film school as screenwriter of the year. “Mary Poppins Returns” is Magee’s fourth film. He is currently writing a musical fantasy about Hans Christian Andersen with composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked).
“The film itself is about moving out of a very difficult situation and finding joy and wonder in a dark time, and Mary Poppins is the key to that,” says Marshall.
He continues, “We tried to keep the essence of Travers’ work by embracing the classic nature and beauty of the books and continuing the legacy of the beautiful worlds she created, while re-imagining it in a completely new way with an original story and original score. At the same time, we made the story as accessible as possible to audiences today so all families can relate to it.”
Grammy and Tony Award-winner Marc Shaiman (Hairspray, South Park” and Tony winner and three-time Emmy nominee Scott Wittman (Hairspray, Smash), who are fans of the unforgettable music from the first film written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, were thrilled to join the team.
Drawing inspiration from the legendary songwriters, Shaiman crafted a beautiful new score and wrote the music and, together with Wittman, the lyrics for nine all-new original songs.
“Marc and Scott are uniquely suited to this project and deliver tuneful songs with brilliant wordplay and profound lyrics,” says Golden Globe® nominated and Emmy® winning producer John DeLuca (“Into the Woods,” “Chicago”). “They came up with eccentric fun songs and moving ballads…you feel like you are in the world of Mary Poppins, yet it feels new and fresh at the same time.”
DeLuca continues, “The script is an integral part of any musical, and Marc and Scott were great collaborators, working closely with David Magee and us so that the script feeds the songs and the songs feed the script. It’s incredibly difficult to find just the right balance, but they are such pros because they’ve done it so many times and are just brilliant at it.”
The level of craftsmanship on “Mary Poppins Returns” is truly extraordinary, much of it at the hands of award-winning artisans Marshall has collaborated with in the past. They include: Oscar® winner Dion Beebe, ACS, ASC (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Into the Woods”) as director of photography; two-time Oscar® winner John Myhre (“Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha”) as production designer; Emmy® nominated Wyatt Smith, ACE (“Tony Bennett: An American Classic”) as editor; three-time Academy Award® winner Sandy Powell (“The Young Victoria,” “Shakespeare in Love,” “The Aviator”) as costume designer; and Oscar® winner Peter Swords King (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) as make-up and hair designer.
In addition, some of the top animators from Pixar and Walt Disney Animation—many who came out of retirement just to be involved—created the animation/live action sequence. The decision by Marshall and his team was to employ the hand drawn techniques of classic Disney films. “We were all incredibly excited to bring this unique art form back to life,” says Marshall. “Having every single frame hand drawn by great Disney/Pixar artists has been a once in a lifetime thrill for all of us.”