EXCLUSIVE: Deadline told you back in February that Tom Hanks was in the mix to play Walt Disney in the John Lee Hancock directed and Kelly Marcel-scripted saga of how Walt Disney waged a 14-year courtship to persuade Australian author P.L. Travers to sell him rights to make a film out of Mary Poppins. Now, things are heating up with Hanks to potentially star with Emma Thompson (Meryl Streep was also being courted) for Disney, which in February made a deal to acquire the Black List script, which is set up with producer Alison Owen of Ruby Films. Disney seems a natural place for the script, considering the studio owns many rights from making the 1964 classic film that starred Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and David Tomlinson, the latter of whom played Mr. Banks in the film.
The heart of this script comes from how close Travers felt to her story of a nanny with magical powers. Mary Poppins was highly personal, and reflected hardships in her own life and her relationship with her father, who died when she was 7. Disney finally persuaded her to let him make the film, but she was prickly all the way to the end. While Mary Poppins was lauded immediately, she hated the animated sequences in the film so much that she refused to sell any of her other works to Disney.
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