new mary poppins film

On Monday, Disney announced that a new Mary Poppins film was in development at the Studio. Naturally, this hit a nerve with many Disney and cinema fans — our staff included. What follows is a debate between Kyle, who's in favor of the idea, and FanBoy, who is against it:

Kyle
In this barrage — nay — onslaught of live action remakes, all I’ve cried out for was an original idea. Sure a sequel/reboot doesn’t quite fall into that category, but at least it’s something. Afterall, it’s a step in the right direction/it’s a step… sorry, wrong movie.

While I haven’t been a huge fan of the remakes so far, I do have some higher hopes for some of the ones in development. The reason for that is the team they have working on them, such as Jon Favreau directing The Jungle Book. And this Poppins project has one heck of a crew on it so far. There’s no doubting that Rob Marshall knows his way around a musical, having directed Chicago and Into the Woods among others. Then you add in Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who wrote the music for one of my favorite musicals: Hairspray. And although there’s no word on if he’ll actually have any hand in it, apparently Richard Sherman (not the Seahawks guy… although I hear he digs the idea too) has given the film his blessing.

I’m not only optimistic about this one, I’m, dare I say, somewhat excited. In the words of a song from Marshall’s last film, “I have no fear nor no one should.”

FanBoy
Don’t mention Marshall’s last film. I hated it. That being said, I am not against remakes. In fact, I enjoyed the remake of The Parent Trap more than the original. Sometimes a fresh perspective on a classic tale is just what the doctor ordered.

That being said, what made Mary Poppins so special was that it caught lightning in a bottle that could never be reduplicated. As Walt’s magnum opus, it captured a unique moment in time with a very special creative team.

Adding a modern sensibility to Mary Poppins would ruin it. With all due respect to the delightful Ms. Travers, her stories are not what made the Disney film a classic. It was Walt’s vision combined with his creative team’s execution that makes it such a classic.

Let’s face it, they will probably want to film the exterior scenes outdoors. That will ruin the moving storybook look that makes the film stick out in our mind..

Kyle
What’s ironic to me about the remakes is that, despite the great advances in technology, animated films don’t show their age as much as live action ones do. Sure we love the look and feel of Mary Poppins and know the significance of what was achieved, but the younger generations may not take to it the same way. For them, this “reboot” may be the gateway they need to make that “old timey” film worth watching, while still given us seasoned veterans and new and entertaining adventure.

I think the problem is we don’t want to give up this story and film that we all hold so closely. In a way, we can all relate to P.L. Travers in that it’s hard to let our vision for Mary go and hand it off to someone else. However, I think passing the torch and letting someone else play in the Poppins sandbox is an interesting move. Hopefully it will yield similarly positive results as it did in the first changing of hands.

FanBoy
You are correct that remakes can bring in a new audience for a classic tale. However, some films, though it is a small list, are untouchable. Psycho should never had been remade. When you can’t improve on the perfection of the original, don’t bother.

I am fine with a Tink film, a Dumbo film, and a Rescue Rangers film. I am not even morally against a Poppins retelling. I just know that they won’t be able to reach the level of the original and that a sequel or remake will just tarnish the Poppins brand.

Disney is currently filming a Pete’s Dragon remake. While the original is fondly remembered by many, no one can claim the film is perfect. They are also going a different route by not making it a musical. This allows the film to try and tell a similar story using a different story structure.

With Mary Poppins, it sounds as if they are just trying to continue the classic. Tell it a different way? Fine. Look at the story from a new perspective like the Broadway show did? Understandable. Picking up where we left off? It will just be an incongruous mess.
There are only so many films to be made. Why focus on one which will instantly be viewed as a pale imitation.

Kyle
To be fair, I’m not sure we’re “picking up where we left off” in terms of story setting, though we may be picking up where we left off in the fact that Ms. Travers actually wrote many Mary Poppins books, aside from the story that inspired the first film. This movie is said to draw from those as opposed to the 1964 film itself. How then can we say that this film will tarnish the Poppins legacy if the first screen version one of her books is considered such a classic?

It seems like a knee-jerk all around; we hear “Mary Poppins” and “reboot” and people get (understandably) upset. However, when you look at the facts of what they’re drawing from, who’s involved, and the even history of the property itself, I think it tells an entirely different story than the headline does. If I may boil down your argument for a minute, it seems to be, “You can’t be as great, so don’t try.” I don’t think any of the filmmakers believe this can surpass the original (nor should they), but I think they can create another special work that will capture the imaginations of today’s youth — how is that not the Poppins legacy? I would, of course, never say that this is a sure-fire grand slam; I’m just saying I think it has a good shot.

FanBoy
I truly hope that I will like this film. But when making any film, one should ask why the film should be made. Even with the upcoming Spider-Man redo, they have a vision that gives the film merit.

When looking at the film, the only reason I can see to make a sequel is to milk the Travers stories, many of which are not interesting or entertaining, to capitalize on the success of the originals.

I will reiterate, I am not against reboots or remakes, but to continuing the legacy of the first Mary Poppins is a task the Mr. Marshall can not meet. Into the Woods was terrible and Pirates 4 was so uninspired that he was not asked to return for the next installment. Let’s not forget his box office bomb that was Nine.

When announcing the production, not once did Disney explain why this movie was being made with this creative team. It just feels like now that the Pavers estate is willing to play ball, Disney decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

Let’s not forget this is not the first time Disney has tried to create a sequel to Mary Poppins. However, in the pre-franchise-obsessed 80s as development continued they came to the realization that there was no way to continue the story in a satisfying way or have a cast as magical as the first. They scrapped that version. They should do the same to this one.

What do you think of the new Mary Poppins project?

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