Saving Mr. Banks is an upcoming biographical drama film about the production of the popular 1964 Walt Disney Studios film Mary Poppins. The film will star Tom Hanks as filmmaker Walt Disney himself and Emma Thompson as author P.L. Travers. Directed by John Lee Hancock from a screenplay by Kelly Marcel, filming started on September 19, 2012. Walt Disney Pictures will release the film on December 13, 2013.
The film centers on the life of Travers, shifting between 1907 with her childhood in Queensland, Australia, her writing the Mary Poppins books in the 1930s, and the negotiations with Walt Disney and the making of Mary Poppins in the 1960s. While in California for filming, Travers thinks back to her difficult childhood in Australia, most especially to her father, the inspiration for the role of the story’s patriarch, George Banks, in the film.
- Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. To prepare for his role, Hanks took several visits to The Walt Disney Family Museum and interviewed some of Disney's relatives including his daughter Diane Disney Miller. Hanks also stated that Disney's notorious vice of chain smoking (which led to his death from lung cancer in 1966) would be incorporated through the course of the film.
- Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers
- Colin Farrell as Travers Robert Goff
- Paul Giamatti as Travers’ chauffeur, Ralph
- Jason Schwartzman as Richard M. Sherman, musician who co-wrote the film's songs with his brother Robert.
- B. J. Novak as Robert B. Sherman, musician who co-wrote the film's songs with his brother Richard.
- Ruth Wilson as Margaret, Travers' mother
- Kathy Baker as Tommie, a trusted studio executive
- Bradley Whitford as Don DaGradi, the co-writer of the 1964 film.
- Rachel Griffiths as Aunt Ellie, Margaret's sister
- Annie Buckley as the young P.L. Travers, nicknamed "Ginty"
- Kimberly D'Armond as Nanny Katie, young Travers' childhood nanny and the inspiration for Katie Nanna
Marcel's screenplay is listed in film executive Franklin Leonard's 2011 Black List, voted by producers, of the best screenplays that are not in production. According to the 40th Anniversary DVD release of the film in 2004, Disney had been working since the 1940s to acquire the rights to the book that was written in 1934, as a promise to his two daughters, but Travers had great misgivings about how her stories would be filmed. She finally relented and allowed Disney to film the story but was so disappointed with the animated portions of the film that she refused to allow any other stories to be filmed.
Although some filming was originally to be in Queensland, Australia, all filming will take place in the Los Angeles area, including Disneyland and at the Walt Disney Studios. Filming was completed around Thanksgiving 2012, and the film will be released on December 20, 2013.
For the Disneyland sequences, Disney will block off certain parts of the theme park from November 6 to 7, 2012 (such as Disney's California Adventure and Sleeping Beauty Castle, the former of which didn't exist yet). The park's cast members and several hundred guests were also hired as extras.