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« The 50 Greatest Films by Black Directors | Main | Judy by the Numbers: "On The Atchison Topeka And The Santa Fe" »
Wednesday
Jun012016

"Mary Poppins Returns" and "In the Heights"

Broadway's Hamilton fever has caught up with mainstream Hollywood. The Tony winning writer/director/actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose Hamilton is the easy frontrunner going into the Tony Awards a week from Sunday (I'm finally seeing it, too, wheeee, albeit a few days after the Tony Awards - thanks Rory!) has two big movies brewing now.... and that's before anyone gets around to trying to get Hamilton on the big screen. He exits Hamilton on July 9th so he'll have plenty of time to chase these Hollywood opportunities.  

Mary Poppins Returns
We've heard rumors of a Mary Poppins remake for ages but it looks like we're getting a sequel instead with the delightfully versatile Emily Blunt as the magical nanny (the iconic Julie Andrews part) and Lin-Manuel Miranda as a new character but I'd still expect a jolly-holiday sort of partner in magical highjinks for Mary. He's described as a "lamplighter" which isn't that far off of chimney sweep in civic duties, don'cha know. The score will be written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who wrote most of the best songs for Smash as well as Broadway's terrific Hairspray. So all of that is very good news. Plus an ORIGINAL movie musical. That is a rarest of things since forever outside of Disney's Little Mermaid era!

But... the film is to be directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods, Nine).

The choice of Marshall is wholly expected since Hollywood doesn't seem to believe it can make musicals without him. That's a pity. Nothing against Marshall but he's not consistent enough to be anywhere close to a "must get". We wish they'd realize that the genre needs and deserves new Vincente Minnellis, Stanley Donens, and Bob Fosses, not someone who can just get the job done and hope for the best about the final result. I am confident that those people exist but remain untapped. The film is due on Christmas Day in 2018. The original Disney classic was nominated for 13 Oscars, winning 5. (It's still Disney's only live action Best Picture nominee... though there Touchstone wing has been nominated before) Good luck measuring up! 

In the Heights
The Weinstein Company is also getting into the Miranda business with a film version of In the Heights, his musical from 2008 about three days in the lives of characters in the Washington Heights neighborhood of NYC (which is largely Hispanic). A previously announced production by Universal failed to materialize. The film won 5 Tonys including Best Musical. No casting or director announced for this one but they want it to be bare bones and "scrappy." No release date yet announced but sometimes stage to screen versions take decades. ("Wicked"? What's that?)

Any suggestions for the director's chair? 

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Reader Comments (22)

Am I being cynical to assume that the Weinsteins are making 'In The Heights' more as a way of establishing a relationship with Miranda so that they get 'Hamilton', rather than because they actually want to make 'In The Heights' simply in and of itself?

Either way, good for Miranda. I haven't seen 'Hamilton' (since I live in London), but the soundtrack is great and I've had it on repeat for months now.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterThe Jack

I'm happy for him, but most of all I'm incredibly suprised. Miranda is so not the Hollywood type.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Without Marshall, you probably wouldn't have Blunt. So, I can't complain too much.

Miranda will likely win an Oscar in the next few years. I wonder if and when the Hamilton movie will get greenlit.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

"No casting or director announced for this one..."

I think it's pretty safe to assume that the director will be Rob Marshall since he's the anointed Gatekeeper of Hollywood Musical Adaptations Because He Made A Decent One Over a Decade Ago. I'm already prepared to groan when he's announced as the director of the eventual Hamilton movie.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Hamer

While I'm less than thrilled at the prospect of another Mary Poppins, some things should be left alone, at least it's a sequel not a remake so it can have it's own individual stamp. But Rob Marshall!! SIGH! His directorial choices are terrible so he'll probably make a hash of the thing.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

So Mary Poppers is cancelled?

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Waters

Nancy Walker is probably busy, right?

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

Hey, I have a director suggestion... Miranda himself maybe?

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

What about Gina Prince-Bythewood for the "In The Heights" director's chair?

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterV.

We'll stop getting Marshall (and Condon and Shankman for that matter) when directors instead of studios decide that they want to make musicals.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

My friends and I were talking about Lin-Manuel this weekend and just amazed at EVERYTHING happening for him at the moment. Has there been a person who has been so universally acknowledged, praised, and awarded for being a goddamn genius at one time?

I mean a lot of it has to do with the current times (social media reach, Hamilton's ubiquity, Harriet Tubman on $20 instead of $10) and A LOT of it is due to the indefatigable man himself. Releasing a book, doing a small ditty for Star Wars, visiting the White House, performing at the Grammys, working with Disney on Moana... and now these two film news. It's quite amazing to see happen.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is going to win an Oscar for original song next year for Moana. It doesn't matter how good or bad the song will be.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVictor S

Well Sam Smith won because of Adele, so at least LMM will win because of his work (albeit for Hamilton). Or his song could be a classic., we'll see.

And right after my first post, I found out he graces new cover of Rollingstone (all by himself too). So yeah... ubiquitous indeed.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

@ Ryan T & Victor S - The way that he's taking over the culture, there's no way he won't win for Moana. I have faith in him that it'll be great

Rob Marshall is so the wrong person for this, but Emily Blunt did also give the best performance in Into the Woods so hopefully he won't stop her from killing it. He's not exactly a great director, but his casts are always pretty game, and his ensembles seem like they're getting better? Maybe it's just too easy to step up from Nine. Either way, even if the movie's bad, I doubt Blunt will be too.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

Please remake a great movie. Especially if Rob Marshall puts his hands on it.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Scrap this film and just do a 'live' TV version of the original Mary Poppins....

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

Will the Jack character be a Latino rapper ? Just kidding....

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

After this, we'll have:
Mary Poppins Forever
Mary & Jack
Mary Poppins Begins
The Umbrella Lady
The Umbrella Lady Rises
just sayin'.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

But what part will Tom Hardy play in The Umbrella Lady Rises?

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBiggs

Lin-Manuel Miranda may be a genius, but he better do a better English accent than Dick Van Dyke in this Mary Poppins sequel.
As for Rob Marshall, he needs a really good choreographer, and someone like Stuart Craig (Harry Potter) for set design to make it creative and interesting.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

To be fair, the direction is not what makes the original Mary Poppins great. The director, Robert Stevenson, was one of Disney's go-to guys for overlong live action films like The Absent Minded Professor and The Gnome Mobile, and anyway he probably wasn't any more or less talented than Rob Marshall.

Personally, I would have preferred a Stephen Daldry or John Cameron Mitchell. But I am relieved it is not that hack who was probably next in line, Tim Burton.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDusty

After the huge success of Grease Live (and Hamilton and In the Heights), I think the obvious choice to direct the In the Hieghts movie is Thomas Kail.

June 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMike

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