In recent years, a trend in Hollywood has developed wherein beloved older movies suddenly get a new sequel decades later. 2016’s Independence Day: Resurgence came out 20 years after Independence Day, 2017’s Blade Runner 2049 took 25 years to follow Blade Runner, and 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road debuted 30 years after the franchise’s previous installment. But all of these timeframes pale in comparison to the gap between 1964’s Mary Poppins and the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns. There is a 54 year gap between the films, one of the longest in history, but what does that mean for the future of the franchise? Will Mary Poppins Returns get a sequel, and if it does, will it take another five decades to produce?
As of this moment, there do not appear to be any plans for a sequel to Mary Poppins Returns — but that could certainly change. Generally speaking, decisions aren’t made on sequels until a film’s box office success is assessed. If Mary Poppins Returns — which has a sizable production budget of $130 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter — turns out to be profitable, then it seems likely Disney would green-light a sequel. In the movie industry, films typically need to earn back double their budget at the box office to break even financially, and should earn substantially more before they can be called a success. So going by these metrics, Mary Poppins Returns will probably need to make at least $400 million for a sequel to even be considered. So could that be done?
It’s possible, but it’s difficult to say. Since the original came out so long ago, it’s tough to predict what the market will be like for the new film, but for precedent it can’t hurt to look at Disney’s recent live-action remakes. Take The Jungle Book, for example. The animated original was released in 1967, around the same time period as the original Mary Poppins. The live-action remake arrived 49 years later and made an astounding $966.5 million worldwide off a $175 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo, making the film one of the biggest of 2016 and a massive success. And even though The Jungle Book was clearly intended as a standalone film — a remake of a five-decades-old classic — a sequel to the live-action version is currently in the works thanks to its financial success, according to /Film. So financially, a sequel to Mary Poppins Returns will makes sense as long the film is profitable, but how could the story benefit?
The sequel takes place 25 years after the original, and the film’s producers had to come up with a legitimate reason for Mary Poppins to come back into the Banks family’s life. "If Poppins did such a good job helping George in the first movie, why does she suddenly need to come back?" screenwriter David Magee told THR. "Then one day it hit us: What if it’s not about George? What if it’s about his grown-up children?" If the sequel proves to be a runaway success and the studio wants a third Mary Poppins film, then the writers will have an even more difficult task in coming up with yet another good reason for Poppins to return.
Mary Poppins Returns might get a sequel, and it might not. There are several variables at work, but one thing is almost certain: If the movie does get a sequel, it’s definitely not going to take another 54 years to make it to screen.
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