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(Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

There were almost certainly a fair few eyebrows raised when Disney announced that they were making a sequel to their classic 1964 movie Mary Poppins. How, after all, could anyone possibly hope to emulate or replace the great Julie Andrews in the title role? But we think the skeptics may well be given pause for thought by the reveal of exactly who has been chosen to take the lead in the upcoming film: as it’s none other than the very excellent Emily Blunt.

Mary Poppins Returns has now been announced as having a release date of December 25, 2018 and will be directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago). The film will be set twenty years after the original, and, rather than simply remaking the story, will instead draw elements from several of the further Mary Poppins books (there were eight in all) written by P. L. Travers.

“This is an extension,” Marshall explained. “I’m a huge fan of the original, and I’m a very good friend of Julie Andrews, and I hold it in such awe. There is all this new material—it was the Harry Potter of its time—and they were never turned into anything further than that [one] adventure.”

Alongside Blunt, who previously worked with Marshall on 2014’s Into the Woods, Lin-Manuel Miranda will play a new character, Jack the Lamplighter. Miranda is probably best known for creating and starring in the recent Broadway hit Hamilton; while the movie’s musical credentials are strengthened even further by the songwriting presence of Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman, Tony Award winners for Hairspray.

While there’s been no mention of a role for a chimney-sweep character, it seems likely that Miranda’s character will serve as a replacement figure for Dick van Dyke‘s Bert. We’d expect, then, that discussion will center heavily around his ability to do a British accent between now and the film’s release…

Are you excited for this new take on an old classic?

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By Seb Patrick