According to a new article out in The UK Sun, the creative team behind Mary Poppins Returns is already in the early stages of planning out a sequel.
A few weeks ago I saw the film on opening day and gave it a pretty enthusiastic review. As soon as I posted it I began wondering if the rest of the world would agree with me? Or maybe I had simply settled for something I really wanted to be good. I try to be objective with new movies, but when a sequel to one of my favorites arrives 50 years after the original, it’s hard not to hope they stick the landing. I could have been biased, is all I’m saying.
As of this writing, the U.S. box office is at $150 million, with that number nearly doubling with the foreign gross. This gives a total take of around $288 million against a budget of $130 million. This doesn’t exactly make it a worldwide phenomenon, but it’s definitely not a flop either. It also came out on a difficult weekend for film releases. Any film going up against Aquaman was probably going to be heavily impacted during the holiday season, when a lot of families are looking for things to see together. Disney likely wanted to position it as counter programming. I would guess some families opted for the giant action spectacle of a musclebound fishman over the politely entertaining magical British nanny musical.
In that same Sun article, director Rob Marshall mentions that they have plenty of options for making sequels because there’s so much source material by author P.L. Travers to draw from. I’m clearly no movie producer, but I’m not sure that’s the greatest starting point for a follow-up.
I have not read the original Poppins books, but after reading many reviews of this film the melancholy tone was mentioned in almost all of them. This film is centered on a family that is disintegrating because of the death of a mother, which certainly starts the film off on a much different feeling in the early going than the original film. I am under the impression that this setup came directly from the original books. I have to wonder if the melancholy feeling and undertones of grief and loss led some people to avoid it as part of their holiday family viewing.
Again, I really liked Mary Poppins Returns and I would love to see another entry in the next few years. Since this is my blog and I can pretend to be a Hollywood consultant for a minute, here is what I would do: look to what Walt Disney did with the original. He knew there was something in the books that spoke to his daughters, but he freely added elements (like cartoons, and penguins) simply because he had a feeling in mind that he wanted to achieve. This is also precisely what drove P.L. Travers nuts about Walt’s interpretation, but that’s a topic for another article.
If we get another Poppins movie, I would love to see them use the books as a jumping-off point to create a Poppins film that is truly for modern kids. Let’s see a more diverse cast. Let’s see Mary Poppins in America, or some other country. Put some dinosaurs in it. Let’s see her work her magic in a new way for a new generation instead of doubling down on the original novels.
I think what Mary Poppins Returns did well was pay a loving homage to the original while proving that there are people out there who still want to see this kind of movie. But for the sequel, do what Walt did – use the incredible sequences P.L. Travers came up with but stop at nothing to make the film feel like something new and unmissable, and not just another “Mary Poppins” film.