More than fifty years after Julie Andrews first floated in on her umbrella, Disney has announced they have a new live-action Mary Poppins movie in development.

It’s not a reboot, or a remake, but a sequel set twenty years after the original film. The new film will be a musical. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who worked on Hairspray and Smash, will be composing the score and new original songs. David McGee (Life of Pi, Finding Neverland) will pen the script with Rob Marshall (Into the Woods, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) at the helm.

P.L. Travers loathed the 1964  Disney movie, which was based on her first two adventures Mary Poppins (1934) and Mary Poppins Comes Back (1935), so much she flatly refused to allow them to adapt any more books. Travers even stipulated in her will that no one involved in the film production would be allowed to work on the British stage play. Disney is working with P.L. Travers’ estate and will be able to draw on the remaining books in the series, another six in total.

Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, the film depicting the purported real story behind the production of Mary Poppins and the relationship between Travers and Walt Disney, misleadingly depicted P.L. Travers tearfully enjoying the film when she finally got to see it on-screen. Part of the publicity surrounding the film included dozens of grubby newspapers digging up as much dirt as they could on Travers, calling her everything from an abusive mother to a drunk, while Disney got away with pretending they had melted Travers’ heart and fulfilled her lifelong dream.

Why would the Travers estate allow Disney to adapt another story after the misery the first film caused her? While there’s an uproar that this new movie will ‘ruin the legacy’ of Mary Poppins, maybe it is a legacy we should be questioning.

The animated sequences were

The animated scenes were just one aspect of the Mary Poppins film that P.L. Travers hated


About The Author

Olga Hughes is currently pre-occupied with fairy tales, fantasy, misanthropy, medieval history and the long eighteenth century. She has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Victorian College of the Arts and is currently majoring in Literature and History at Deakin. She has contributed to websites such as History behind Game of Thrones, The Anne Boleyn Files and The Tudor Society.

2 Responses

  1. Underdogge

    I saw a documentary at the time the stage play was coming on to the London stage and people who had read the books (I never did) said that book Mary Poppins was less syrupy (well they probably put it in slightly better English) than the film version. Dear ole Dick Van Dyke couldn’t do a cockney accent but he does a good song and dance routine (haven’t seen him do that much on “Diagnosis Murder”).

    In the 21st century it should not be beyond the wit of humankind to create a film which is not sickly sweet and perhaps true to the character(s) PL Travers had in mind when she wrote her Mary Poppins books.

    • Olga Hughes

      I think audiences are used to more ironic fairy tales these days but their last movie (Cinderella) was decidedly traditional, and British. I’m not a fan of the original movie, never was. But I think they may stick close to Disney formula for this next one.