Disney began production today on Saving Mr. Banks, the account of Walt Disney’s twenty-year pursuit of the film rights to P.L. Travers’ popular novel, Mary Poppins, and the testy partnership the upbeat filmmaker develops with the uptight author during the project’s pre-production in 1961.
Two-time Academy Award®-winner Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, Forrest Gump) will essay the role of the legendary Disney (the first time the entrepreneur has ever been depicted in a dramatic film) alongside fellow double Oscar®-winner Emma Thompson (Howard’s End, Sense and Sensibility) in the role of the prickly novelist. Before actually signing away the book’s rights, Travers’ demands for contractual script and character control circumvent not only Disney’s vision for the film adaptation, but also those of the creative team of screenwriter Don DaGradi and sibling composers Richard and Robert Sherman, whose original score and song (Chim-Chim-Cher-ee) would go on to win Oscars® at the 1965 ceremonies (the film won five awards of its thirteen nominations).
When Travers travels from London to Hollywood in 1961 to finally discuss Disney’s desire to bring her beloved character to the motion picture screen (a quest he began in the 1940s as a promise to his two daughters), Disney meets a prim, uncompromising sexagenarian not only suspect of the impresario’s concept for the film, but a woman struggling with her own past. During her stay in California, Travers’ reflects back on her childhood in 1906 Australia, a trying time for her family which not only molded her aspirations to write, but one that also inspired the characters in her 1934 book.
None more so than the one person whom she loved and admired more than any other—her caring father, Travers Goff, a tormented banker who, before his untimely death that same year, instills the youngster with both affection and enlightenment (and would be the muse for the story’s patriarch, Mr. Banks, the sole character that the famous nanny comes to aide). While reluctant to grant Disney the film rights, Travers comes to realize that the acclaimed Hollywood storyteller has his own motives for wanting to make the film—which, like the author, hints at the relationship he shared with his own father in the early 20th Century Midwest.
Colin Farrell (Minority Report, Total Recall) co-stars as Travers’ doting dad, Goff, along with British actress Ruth Wilson (the forthcoming films The Lone Ranger, Anna Karenina) as his long-suffering wife, Margaret; Oscar® and Emmy® nominee Rachel Griffiths (‘Six Feet Under,’ Hilary and Jackie, The Rookie) as Margaret’s sister, Aunt Ellie (who inspired the title character of Travers’ novel); and a screen newcomer—11-year-old Aussie native Annie Buckley as the young, blossoming writer, nicknamed ‘Ginty’ in the flashback sequences.
The cast also includes Emmy® winner Bradley Whitford (‘The West Wing,’ The Cabin in the Woods) as screenwriter Don DaGradi; Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom) and B.J. Novak (NBC’s ‘The Office,’ Inglourious Basterds) as the songwriting Sherman Brothers (Richard and Robert, respectively); Oscar® nominee and Emmy winner Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Cinderella Man, HBO’s ‘John Adams’) as Ralph, the kindly limousine driver who escorts Travers during her two-week stay in Hollywood; and multi-Emmy winner Kathy Baker (‘Picket Fences,’ Edward Scissorhands) as Tommie, one of Disney’s trusted studio associates.
Saving Mr. Banks will be directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, The Rookie) based on a screenplay by Kelly Marcel (creator of FOX-TV’s ‘Terra Nova’), from a story by Sue Smith (Brides of Christ, Bastard Boys) and Kelly Marcel. The film is being produced by Alison Owen of Ruby Films (the Oscar®-nominated Elizabeth, HBO’s Emmy®-winning Temple Grandin), Ian Collie of Essential Media (the Aussie TV documentary The Shadow of Mary Poppins, DirecTV’s ‘Rake’) and longtime Hancock collaborator Philip Steuer (The Rookie, The Chronicles of Narnia trilogy). The film’s executive producers are Ruby Films’ Paul Trijbits (Lay the Favorite, Jane Eyre), Hopscotch Features’ Andrew Mason (The Matrix trilogy, Dark City) and Troy Lum (Mao’s Last Dancer, I, Frankenstein) and BBC Films’ Christine Langan (Oscar® nominee for The Queen, We Need to Talk About Kevin).
Hancock’s filmmaking team includes a trio of artists with whom he worked on his 2009 Best Picture Oscar® nominee, The Blind Side—two-time Oscar® nominated production designer Michael Corenblith (How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Apollo 13), Emmy®-winning costume designer Daniel Orlandi (HBO’s Game Change, Frost/Nixon) and film editor Mark Livolsi, A.C.E. (Wedding Crashers, The Devil Wears Prada). Hancock also reunites with Academy Award®-nominated cinematographer John Schwartzman (Seabiscuit, Pearl Harbor), with whom he first worked on his inspiring 2002 sports drama, The Rookie.
Saving Mr. Banks will film entirely in the Los Angeles area, with key locations to include Disneyland in Anaheim and the Disney Studios in Burbank. Filming will conclude around Thanksgiving, 2012, with no specific 2013 release date yet set.
In the spring of 2009, The Walt Disney Family Museum approached veteran filmmaker Don Hahn with a proposal to create a film that would celebrate the holidays through the eyes of Walt Disney. Under the direction of Diane Disney Miller, her husband Ron, and executive director Richard Benefield, the genesis of this idea became Christmas with Walt Disney, an enchanting fifty-one minute film filled with the joy and merriment of the holidays.
Mr. Hahn, whose credits include The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, was tapped to produce this film that will now become an annual event for The Walt Disney Family Museum to stage and entertain their guests each year during the holidays.
Christmas with Walt Disney is full of surprises including scenes from the television specials and vintage commercials from early Disney sponsors such as Kodak and Coca Cola. The studio Dixieland band, Firehouse Five plus Two makes a spirited appearance, as do clips from dozens of Disney’s films including Swiss Family Robinson, Lady and the Tramp, Fantasia and a clip from The Happiest Millionaire featuring Fred McMurray and Greer Garson singing “It Won’t be Long ‘til Christmas”— a very rare clip since this song was cut out of the picture.
“During our first screening of some selected clips to Ron and Diane, we showed clips of Walt skiing and ice skating with Lillian intercut with clips of Mickey and Goofy on ice,” said executive producer Craig Murray. “The quick cuts from Walt to Goofy did the trick and showed how much this man’s life became his art.”
The film will be shown several times a day (except Tuesdays and December 25 and January 1) from November 27 – January 4. For more information and to purchase tickets in advance, visit the museum’s website.
Not too long ago, we told you about the new film Walt and El Grupo which tells the story of how the United States Government sent Walt Disney and his team of animators to South America on a good will tour. Today we are pleased to bring you the first trailer for the film courtesy of Apple.
The Walt Disney Family Museum site has gone live. Visit it online at waltdisney.org to learn more about the museum, obtain timed tickets, watch videos and the chance to pre-order the museum’s book, The Walt Disney Family Museum: The Man, the Magic, the Memories written by noted Disney historian J.B. Kaufman and Diane Disney Miller with preface by Richard Benefield and introduction by Diane Disney Miller. At 96 pages and containing 124 illustrations, the book tells the story of Walt Disney in ten chapters that coincide with the museum’s galleries. The book will be available exclusively from the museum beginning October 15, 2009, but is currently available for pre-order for $19.95
Thanks to your appreciation of our previous article on the Walt Disney Family Museum which featured some of the items that will be on display in Gallery One, titled Walt Disney’s Early Years (1901 – 1923), we are pleased to present you with some of the items that can be found in Gallery Two.
San Francisco, CA, July 16, 2009—The fascinating and inspiring story of Walt Disney, whose artistry, creations, and vision helped define 20th-century American culture, will be brought to life at The Walt Disney Family Museum, which opens in San Francisco in October 2009. The Museum will illuminate Walt Disney’s tremendous successes, disappointments, and unyielding optimism as he pursued innovation and excellence while entertaining and enchanting generations worldwide through his pioneering ventures.
The creator of Mickey Mouse, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disneyland, and the global yet distinctly American company that bears his name, Disney was an independent risk-taker who started his first business at the age of 19 and worked tirelessly to elevate animation to an art form. He invented timeless characters and stories that brought the fantastical to life and continue to inspire a sense of wonder. Through animated and live action films, television programs, and theme parks, Disney created global symbols, icons, and characters that, more than 40 years after his death, are an indelible part of popular culture in America and around the world.
LOS ANGELES, July 15 — Acclaimed documentary WALT & EL GRUPO, a festival favorite in Rome, Rio, San Francisco, Palm Springs and Seattle, is set to begin its theatrical run with limited releases in Los Angeles and New York on September 11, 2009. The film, from writer/director Theodore Thomas (“Frank and Ollie”) and producer Kuniko Okubo, is also scheduled to run for a week in Seattle starting September 25th and will debut in additional markets soon after.
In New York, the film will open at the Quad Cinema. In Los Angeles, the film will release on two screens, at the Landmark’s Regent Theater in Westwood and the AMC Downtown Disney 12 in Anaheim. For more information on the film, check out the official website at www.waltandelgrupo.com, become a fan on Facebook, or follow the film on Twitter.