Making a sequel to one of the most beloved movies ever is already a tricky business, but it's one Rob Marshall decided he was willing to take on to direct Mary Poppins Returns. Our own Corey Chichizola had a chance to sit down with Marshall to discuss the new film, and the director told him that the trickiest part of the film was deciding when it was ok to directly reference the original film, specifically in the score, and when he needed to let the new film stand on its own. According to Marshall...
It was so strategic. We were very careful not to abuse that. Using material, music, or strains of material. Or even images from the first film. We knew we had to do it sparingly throughout. And that's what we did. We found places that we felt we had earned it. In fact, a lot of the strains of music like 'Feed the Birds' or 'Let's Go Fly A Kite' are little strains of music. We wait until the very end of the film. We feel like at that point, we've earned it. And you can't abuse that kind of thing. Otherwise you're just doing a remake, which is not what this is.
The reason Disney decided to make a sequel to Mary Poppins at all was certainly that the film is so deeply loved by so many. Fans will want the movie to make those references to the classic film they remember. At the same time, the new movie has to stand on its own and be its own story. Fans will want to keep their eyes and ears open as Rob Marshall says that those references are there but they're few and far between, as he didn't want to abuse nostalgia.
Having seen Mary Poppins Returns already, and being a big fan of the original, I certainly noticed at least a few of the times that the score in the background included bits of music from the original film. It's incredibly well done and while the music wants you to hear the reference, it's not happening all the time, which makes those moments that you hear it feel special. I didn't notice the musical cues until later in the movie, which certainly does seem to imply that Mary Poppins Returns waited until it had earned those moments. I certainly believe it did.
The good news is that you won't need to wait too long to experience Mary Poppins Returns as the film opens in theaters on Wednesday. Check out Rob Marshall's complete comments in the video below.