Kelly Marcel is one of the hottest screenwriters in Hollywood these days, what with adapting the E.L. James mega-bestseller 50 Shades of Grey and, according to Deadline, being in talks to re-write director Joe Wright’s adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Marcel is also garnering Oscar Best Screenplay buzz for the upcoming Disney release, Saving Mr. Banks, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.
Joe Wright’s The Little Mermaid project has been in the works for several years, with Abi Morgan (Shame), originally penning the script. The film will be live-action and bear little resemblance to the popular animated Disney film of 1989. Wright comes from a theater background and wants Marcel to draw the adaptation from Hans Christian Anderson’s decidedly darker original story.
Saving Mr. Banks is Marcel’s more imminent movie. The film premieres December 20th, 2013 – perfect timing for the holiday box-office and Oscar qualification. It follows the true story of the collaboration between Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), and Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson). Saving Mr. Banks is a 2011 screenplay that made it off The Black List and into the hands of Disney studios. John L. Hancock (The Blind Side, The Alamo, The Rookie), was chosen as director.
The story centers on Disney’s 14 year struggle to secure the film rights (with final say) for P.L. Travers’ beloved book, Mary Poppins. The Mr. Banks in the book and in Marcel’s title refers to P.L. Travers’ father (played by Colin Farrell), whose struggles with business and his family’s survival in the early 1900’s turned him into a brusque and bitter man.
P.L. Travers was afraid Disney would “sugar-coat” the story without preparing children for the darkness of “real life.” (Ah, the ironies, given the movie’s most famous song.) Although in 1964 the film became a smash success, with Julie Andrew and Dick Van Dyke in the leading roles, P.L. Travers was so disappointed in the result she refused to work with Disney ever again.
The release date for Saving Mr. Banks is December 20, 2013 with a limited release openingon December 13, the same day as The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
For a full report on Tom Hanks’s goings-on, check out yesterday’s article.