Mary Poppins was the first film that Chicago filmmaker Rob Marshall saw as a child, so when the opportunity arose to direct the sequel, he stepped up, not just because of fandom, but “to protect the first film”.

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Another draw for him? The fact that a family musical is an oasis “in these dark times we live in. It’s so incredible to escape and be part of this world, creating a movie with such emotion and joy and hope.”

While Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer watched the original performance of the Banks children in the 1964 film to draw inspiration, Emily Blunt went back to the original books by P.L. Travers.

“She leaped off the page directly at me between my eyeballs,” said the actress who also has her silence performance in A Quiet Place in contention this season, “She’s funny, vain, rude and profound and has a great depth of what people need; how she can unlock people through fantasia and magic.”

Hamilton Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda who plays lamplighter Jack, a variation on (but a different character) Dick Van Dyke’s Bert in the original movie, said that by the time cameras rolled, “we were a company just like Hamilton.” On the first day of production Blunt and Miranda were handed a hat and a cane for a dance number involving hand-drawn animated penguins, and that in and of itself speaks to Marshall’s point of harking back to the original.

Mary Poppins Returns opens on Dec. 19 and industry projections have the film set to open to around $70M in its first week. The original movie was nominated for 13 Oscars including director and best picture, and won five including best actress Julie Andrews, best original score by the Sherman Brothers in addition to their original song “Chim Chim Cher-ee”.  Marshall was last nominated for best director at the Oscars in 2003 for Chicago with that movie continuing on to win Best Picture.  Also at today’s Poppins Contenders presentation, were Whishaw, and Mortimer.

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Incredibles 2 director and writer Brad Bird was also at Contenders NYC today. And while the sequel took 14 years to reach the screen, Bird said he had the idea for part 2 when he’s promoting the first installment whereby Holly Hunter’s Elastigirl is the one who gets the chief superhero assignment much to her husband’s envy. Also, “the un-exploded bomb that is Jack-Jack, which the audiences knows about, but the Parrs do not” said Bird.

The thematic gist of the sequel that’s in sync with its original: “It’s the mundane and the fantastic. You don’t do something very long without doing something mundane, and you don’t do something mundane for long without being fantastic.”

Incredibles 2 is the highest-grossing animated film of all-time at the domestic box office with $608.5M, and currently second to Frozen in global ticket sales, $1.24B to $1.27B.  The Incredibles won two Oscars for best animated feature film in 2005 and best sound editing.