Fans at the live-action panel at Disney’s D23 convention got a spoonful of a surprise on Saturday with a glimpse at the first footage from Mary Poppins Returns.
The magical sequel, arriving in theaters Christmas 2018, stars Emily Blunt as the titular nanny who returns to Cherry Tree Lane some 20 years after first leaving Jane and Michael Banks (now played by Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw).
Prior to introducing the footage, Sean Bailey showed brand-new photos of the cast — including Lin-Manuel Miranda (as lamplighter Jack), Meryl Streep (as Mary’s eccentric cousin Topsy), and Angela Lansbury (as the Balloon Lady) — and brought out director Rob Marshall and Blunt to chat about the film.
“I think as a kid I found the idea that this magical mysterious person sort of whisking into their lives and making everything right again really comforting as a child,” said Blunt, who also spoke about following in Julie Andrews’ footsteps in the daunting role.
“I found that I watched about 15 minutes of the original and then just stopped watching it because I needed to kind of try and pay homage to what Julie did but carve out new space for myself. No one is ever going to out-Julie Julie Andrews. She’s just unbelievable. There will never be anyone else like her. So I just had to do my version of her and I think we were very loyal to the books. I think she is a little more sort of acerbic and odd and vain and weird in the books. And so we went that direction a little more. So it’s my version of her!”
“Both of us, and the entire company and the creative team, feel very protective of the original film, too, because we love it so much,” said Marshall. “The bar is so incredibly high. That’s that, and will always be that. This is living in that world, having a foot in the past in that gorgeous film, and then a foot in the present in a new story.”
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As for the footage from the film (which just finished principal photography a few weeks ago), Marshall showed a brief clip from the film — “a little something,” really, which even Blunt hadn’t seen — set to live music from the score, played by co-composer Marc Shaiman and the Disney orchestra.
The footage revealed the morose state of Cherry Tree Lane in London’s slump era, where the Banks family is distraught following the death of Michael’s wife. His youngest son, Georgie, flies an errant kite that gets caught in the clouds, and with the help of Jack, they pull the kite and reveal…Mary Poppins, holding the kite and descending from the clouds! Mary proceeds to bring her brand of magic—including her winking parrot umbrella and magic carpet bag—into the Banks home.
The rest of the footage showed a slew of musical moments, including an undersea bathtub adventure, a musical number where Mary and Jack hop inside a Royal Doulton bowl and transform for a pastel-painted animated performance (featuring those penguins!), Topsy’s upside-down home, and Jack and his fellow lamplighters’ wild ride through London.