Marketing opportunity or heartfelt portrayal of a woman desperate to keen her story true to itself?
The new Disney movie Saving Mr Banks opened in America on Friday (Dec 13), and audiences are enjoying the story of how Walt Disney courted P.L Travers to get her to sign over the rights for Mary Poppins.
But they also can't help but wonder if the characters have been softened to sell the story. Writer Kelly Marcel insists that she wrote the script (with Sue Smith) long before the studio was involved, and that they allowed the filmmakers artistic freedom in how they portrayed Mr Disney, who is played by Tom Hanks as a man who can identify with Emma Thompson's Travers about having a dark past and a fictional creation that needs protecting.
But he also indulges in speeches that echo the Disney company's ethos, about the wonders of imagination. In the end, the film is a marketing opportunity too good to be missed. Not only does it conveniently arrive just in time for 50th anniversary celebrations of 1964's enduring hit Mary Poppins (complete with a beautifully remastered soundtrack release), but it's just in time to pick up some Oscar attention as well.
Movies about the movies have done very well at awards time over the past two years, when the big winners were The Artist and Argo. But It might have a tough time usurping frontrunners like 12 Years a Slave, Gravity and American Hustle – the three films that seemingly sit in the Academy’s favour.
The latter’s chances were dramatically improved by a recent slew of high profile awards, while 12 Years dominated the SAG nominations. Hanks, though, has a brilliant chance of picking up a statuette in one category or another; his turn as the titular Captain Phillips has been lauded, while Paul Greengrass’s efforts as a director have been singled out for particular praise.
Saving Mr. Banks enjoyed a limited release on Friday, December 13, and recieved its full release this Friday, December 20.