Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda often felt like they were in the midst of a wonderful dream while on the set of Mary Poppins Returns. Luckily for the talented duo, and us, it was very much a reality.
When Mary Poppins was originally released back in August 1964, it went on to gross about $32M. It was incredibly profitable for Disney as its only cost the studio $5M to produce, which is remarkable when you consider its dazzling and groundbreaking blend of live-action and animation.
Aside from its robust box office, Mary Poppins was also a darling with film critics. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Song, and Best Actress. Dame Julie Andrews, who actually made her feature film debut in the Disney classic, took home the Oscar.
With all that said, you can understand why Blunt and Miranda need a pinch to remind them they weren't dreaming about starring in its sequel.
For Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is best known for creating and starring in the Broadway phenomenon Hamilton, his pinch-me moment came when he first heard the music Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman have composed for it. “Honestly, hearing Marc and Scott’s songs for the first time was really exciting. It’s such a love letter to [original composers] the Sherman brothers,” Miranda told EW. “Marc and Scott really grew up listening to and loving those guys, so it just feels of a piece with the music from the original. That’s the best way to describe it. The orchestrations are massive, and they’ve captured the spirit of it so well. It’s whimsical when it needs to be whimsical with this undercurrent of sadness, but insanely catchy. It’s got that aftertaste of melancholy when it needs it, and it’s really lovely. When I heard it, I got really excited, because this is not some quote-unquote ‘modern’ Poppins. This just is the next movie.”
As for Blunt, she know exactly when she thought she was dreaming her good fortune. “I actually had one of these big pinch-me moments when I saw about 30 people coming down Cherry Tree Lane,” Blunt recalled. “We had a camera on a crane and another camera on a truck and it was just one of those very classic, cinematic, men-dancing-like-men, incredible, beautifully lit moments, and I just turned to Rob and said, ‘My God, we’re really making a big old movie, aren’t we?’”
Mary Poppins Returns is set in 1930s depression-era London (the time period of the original novels) and is drawn from the wealth of material in PL Travers' additional seven books. In the story, Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer) are now grown up, with Michael, his three children and their housekeeper, Ellen (Julie Walters), living on Cherry Tree Lane. After Michael suffers a personal loss, the enigmatic nanny Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) re-enters the lives of the Banks family, and, along with the optimistic street lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), uses her unique magical skills to help THE FAMILY rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives. Mary Poppins also introduces the children to a new assortment of colorful and whimsical characters, including her eccentric cousin, Topsy (Meryl Streep).
The cast also includes Colin Firth plays William Weatherall Wilkins, the man who runs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, and Dick Van Dyke plays Mr. Dawes Jr., the chairman of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, as well as three new Banks children, played by Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and newcomer Joel Dawson.
It's being directed and produced by Oscar-nominee, Emmy and DGA Award winner Rob Marshall (Into the Woods, Chicago). The screenplay is by Oscar-nominee David Magee (Life of Pi), based on The Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers. Oscar-nominee and Tony-winner Marc Shaiman (Hairspray) is composing an original score and co-writing all new songs with Emmy-nominee and Tony-winner Scott Wittman (Hairspray).
Mary Poppins Returns is scheduled for release December 25, 2018.
Photo Credit: Walt Disney