Also: ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ book available for free, exclusively on iBooks 

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Disney Chairman & CEO Bob Iger and actors including Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Julie Andrews and Dick Van Kyke attend the film premiere of “Saving Mr. Banks” (Photo by Kevork Djansezian-Reuters)

*Walt Disney Pictures has spun its magical wand again and puff – “Saving Mr. Banks!”  Two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar-winner Tom Hanks headline Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” inspired by the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” – starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke — made it to the screen and the volatile relationship that the storied Walt Disney had with author P.L. Travers that almost made it not come to fruition.

The story is impeccably told and Thompson and Hanks are irresistible in their title roles.  As you watch these seasoned pros breathe life into John Lee Hancock’s flawless direction, their chemistry connects like magnetic Velcro.

Thompson is the quintessential author who is not going to be talked out of her idyllic idea of her father’s portrayal.  And Hanks’ seamless portrayal of Mr. Disney is so enchanting that you actually picture how the legendary creative genius was in real life. “Saving Mr. Banks” is the first feature-length, theatrical drama to depict the iconic entrepreneur Walt Disney making the Oscar buzz around this movie explosive!\

As the story goes, When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins,” he made them a promise — one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep.  In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine.  But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation.

For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops.  Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge.  He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp.

It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.

The film went on to win five awards of its 13 Academy Award nominations: Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Effects, Best Film Editing, Original Score and Original Song.  Among the nominations were Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The stars of the movie attended a star-studded premiere on December 9, 2013 at the Walt Disney Studios attended by Disney Chairman & CEO Bob Iger along with“Mary Poppins” original stars Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke and “Saving Mr. Banks” stars Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Jason Schwartzman, BJ Novak, Paul Giamatti, Colin Farrell, Richard Sherman, Bradley Whitford, and other stars and filmmakers.

“Saving Mr. Banks” is directed by John Lee Hancock, produced by Alison Owen, Ian Collie and Philip Steuer, and written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith.  Executive Producers are Paul Trijbits, Christine Langan, Andrew Mason and Troy Lum.  The film opened nationwide December 20, 2013 to heavy Oscar buzz.

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“Saving Mr. Banks” stars Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are pictured with Hank’s wife, Rita Wilson (Photo courtesy Walt Disney)

*Simultaneously with the release of the film, Walt Disney Studios will also release SAVING MR. BANKS: The Official Multi-touch Book, based on the success of the “Saving Mr. Banks” film exploring how Walt Disney worked his magic on author P.L. Travers to secure the rights to her book, “Mary Poppins.”

The book includes a foreword by Academy Award®-winning composer Richard Sherman; never-before-seen correspondence between Walt Disney and P.L. Travers; rare storyboards and scripts from the Disney archives; an interactive timeline of historic Walt Disney Studios milestones; original recordings of the Sherman Brothers, performing their “Mary Poppins” hit songs; facts and profiles on the key characters in “Saving Mr. Banks” — all created by Apple’s digital book creation app, iBooks Author.

The “Saving Mr. Banks” book is available for free, exclusively on iBooks

Using Apple’s iBooks Author, the UK digital agency, Brandwidth was able to include video, audio and multi-touch interaction to create a robust storytelling experience.  Readers can watch interviews featuring the cast and filmmakers, browse extensive photo galleries and explore the original storyboards and concept art — all in full retina detail.  ‘Mary Popovers’ deliver fascinating facts throughout the book.

New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets.  Contact her via: [email protected]

audrey bernard

Audrey J. Bernard