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'Mary Poppins' returns, as studios raid their vaults

If the original "Mary Poppins" was released today, plans would already be underway for a sequel, perhaps a t...

Posted: Dec 18, 2018 7:29 PM
Updated: Dec 18, 2018 7:29 PM

If the original "Mary Poppins" was released today, plans would already be underway for a sequel, perhaps a trilogy. But the movie that came out in 1964 was left alone, until now, freezing Julie Andrews' portrayal of the magical nanny in amber for more than a half-century.

"Mary Poppins Returns" ends that when the long-deferred sequel premieres December 19, reflecting the current reality for any hit property, old or new. Simply put, nothing with that sort of loyal following will be allowed to sit dormant anymore, and there's a naive "Get off my lawn!" quality to complaints from those who fervently wish it weren't so.

Arts and entertainment

Companies

Movies

Walt Disney Company

So Disney's animated classics? Let's try live-action versions, like the upcoming "The Lion King," whose trailer lit up the Internet. Classic TV shows? There's always room for more -- either with the original cast, a la "Will & Grace," or a new one that might bring a fresh twist to the action, say, in terms of gender or race, like "One Day at a Time."

A beloved character has reached the end of his or her story? No problem. There's always room to go back and meet them when they were young.

Of course, the imperative to milk "intellectual property" for all it's worth comes with risks, foremost among them braving the thickets of nostalgia and high expectations that surround new chapters or rebooted versions of familiar names.

While "Mary Poppins" is a somewhat unusual case -- magical nannies don't age -- it nicely encapsulates the balancing act that current studio calculations require. And it comes at a singular moment for the company behind it, Disney, which is aggressively raiding its vaults and seeking to breathe new life into signature titles -- a practice that has been largely rewarded but has proven something less than foolproof.

To its credit, Disney and its Lucasfilm unit acknowledged that they might have been overfishing the "Star Wars" waters after their latest stand-alone effort, "Solo: A Star Wars Story," fell short of box-office forecasts. Never mind that the movie was actually pretty good, a number of contemplated launches were put on a slowdown pattern.

That was just a blip, however, in a "Star Wars" galaxy that's teeming with life, including new movie franchises and programming intended to drive subscriptions to Disney's planned streaming service.

On the flip side, Warner Bros. and director Bradley Cooper found surprising life in another version of "A Star is Born," roughly 80 years after the first graced the screen. HBO, meanwhile, began actively working on a "Game of Thrones" prequel to soften the blow of losing its most popular series, determined to avoid any significant lapse in Westeros-set drama.

Inevitably, a few conspicuous failures yield questions about whether it's time to hit the brakes on remake/reboot/revival mania, contemplating where the limits are on audience appetites.

Yet the truth is that these venerable properties are seen -- with considerable justification -- as the solution to a marketing problem. In a world crawling with options, consumers don't have to be educated about "Mary Poppins," "Dumbo" or "The Lion King," which means studios don't have to work as hard to sell them.

Everyone seems to have their own personal "Nope, that's going too far" threshold. Those reactions occasionally surprise the Hollywood hierarchy, such as the "You ruined my childhood!" backlash -- small, but absurdly vocal -- that greeted an all-female "Ghostbusters," a fun movie in its original guise, but not exactly on a par with "Citizen Kane" or "Casablanca."

Acting as if it's sacrilegious to think of iconic movies and TV becoming fodder for spinoffs and expansions is understandable, but it ignores the pressure to stand out amid modern saturation of content and media. As long as studios keep struggling with how to break through that clutter, expect many more "Returns," happy or otherwise.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1524527

Reported Deaths: 20751
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion2077652558
Lake1010411517
Allen946081024
Hamilton73638551
St. Joseph65362761
Elkhart50026632
Vanderburgh48959530
Tippecanoe44411338
Johnson38772527
Hendricks36850462
Porter34709476
Madison29301547
Clark26328328
Vigo25941346
LaPorte23600313
Monroe23478249
Howard22382381
Delaware21877370
Hancock18857220
Bartholomew18433216
Kosciusko18124203
Warrick17207215
Wayne16474303
Floyd16129257
Grant15566299
Morgan14615232
Boone13622138
Noble11983142
Shelby11877152
Dearborn11825113
Henry11771201
Marshall11444171
Dubois11418152
Jackson10772104
Cass10380143
Lawrence10308221
DeKalb10292132
Huntington10277140
Gibson9749126
Montgomery9377144
Knox9162125
Harrison9157117
Whitley886771
Steuben8739105
Jasper8325116
Putnam8306100
Clinton827596
Miami8249135
Jefferson8030127
Wabash7914139
Ripley7278116
Adams6713103
Daviess6661130
Scott663586
White624484
Greene6159112
Clay615275
Decatur6062120
Wells6001120
Jennings600081
Fayette5886122
Posey561648
LaGrange535797
Randolph5171129
Washington511470
Owen5068100
Fountain482580
Spencer457456
Sullivan449866
Starke443986
Fulton440393
Orange435083
Jay419964
Rush418839
Perry397555
Carroll384549
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Parke327338
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Blackford275955
Pulaski275375
Newton235461
Brown233556
Benton221521
Crawford220132
Switzerland201414
Martin191822
Warren179522
Union172619
Ohio125216
Unassigned0759

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2496243

Reported Deaths: 31987
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin2696772100
Cuyahoga2600613087
Hamilton1742641756
Montgomery1162791651
Summit1084961418
Lucas929121193
Butler82981963
Stark766321431
Lorain63976809
Warren52895489
Mahoning50955930
Lake47462611
Clermont46371452
Delaware40674220
Trumbull39527790
Licking38492416
Medina38487427
Fairfield35469349
Greene33906435
Portage32283366
Clark31960453
Richland29400444
Wood29143301
Allen25702403
Miami23931408
Muskingum23316255
Columbiana22903409
Wayne21965365
Tuscarawas19512428
Erie18531224
Ashtabula18489362
Marion18456235
Scioto17888214
Ross17287260
Pickaway16251181
Hancock16004232
Geauga15456229
Lawrence14746186
Belmont14033248
Union1403384
Huron13838184
Jefferson13519261
Sandusky13180200
Athens12624107
Knox12037201
Seneca11934204
Darke11316202
Ashland11157184
Washington11009172
Auglaize10785147
Crawford10333178
Shelby10308160
Brown9972145
Fulton9661154
Highland9632151
Guernsey9612122
Defiance9486137
Logan9403147
Clinton9299132
Mercer9015112
Madison8971111
Preble8428170
Williams8263138
Putnam8024136
Champaign7974113
Ottawa7909123
Jackson7763121
Perry7415102
Coshocton7345136
Morrow723984
Fayette703292
Pike658489
Hardin6532133
Gallia634391
Adams6159127
Van Wert6025121
Henry598196
Hocking5835105
Wyandot498894
Carroll4961101
Holmes4857167
Paulding421665
Meigs397774
Monroe313868
Harrison296362
Noble295652
Morgan289448
Vinton254646
Unassigned08
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