In 1964, Disney released one of its most iconic films and introduced audiences to Mary Poppins, a story of a charmed nanny who, through music and magic, helped repair a strained relationship between two children and their father. Relying on some of the period’s most cutting-edge techniques, the studio mixed animation with live-action performances, as well as some practical gags, and took audiences on an adventure with dancing penguins, carousel horses, and singing farm animals. The next year, the film went on to win five Academy Awards, including one for visual effects.
Fast forward 54 years, and Disney is hoping to make movie magic once again with a long-awaited sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, staring Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, Colin Firth as William Weatherall Wilkins, Meryl Streep as Topsy, and Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Dawes Jr. At the helm is Academy Award-winning director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods) and a stellar team of creatives that includes Academy Award-winning DP Dion Beebe (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha), editor Wyatt Smith (Into the Woods, Doctor Strange), and visual effects supervisor Matt Johnson (Into the Woods, World War Z) – all of whom had some very large shoes to fill.
“It’s funny, it’s Mary Poppins, and Disney is handing you the crown jewels, going, “here, take these. And don’t screw it up,” Johnson says with a laugh. “It’s one of the most iconic films ever made, and everyone is going to be looking at the visual effects because they are really important. I mean, she does magic, and magic tends to be visual effects, which were spectacular in Mary Poppins!”