By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com February 28, 2012 at 10:40AM
It's now over two years since since "The Blind Side" came from nowhere to not only become a surprise box-office smash, but also earn a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards, and a Best Actress statuette for Sandra Bullock. As such, it's somewhat surprising that it's taken so long for its writer-director, John Lee Hancock, to get another project going.
The helmer, who got his start penning "A Perfect World" for Clint Eastwood before directing the hit "The Rookie" and the giant flop "The Alamo," has had plenty of projects circulating. Over the last couple of years, he's been attached to electronics prodigy biopic "Electric Boy Genius," Will Smith-produced Hurricane Katrina drama "The American Can," Bonnie & Clyde pic "Highwaymen" and most recently, the John Grisham adaptation "The Partner," but none have moved that close to production. Fortunately, he's just entered negotiations to direct a project that has all kinds of heat behind it.
According to Deadline, the director is in talks with Disney to helm "Saving Mr. Banks," their upcoming drama that focuses on the making of the production of the studio's classic "Mary Poppins." The company picked up the script, by rising scribe Kelly Marcel, a few weeks ago, and are seemingly keen to attract some major talent, with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep the names discussed for the lead roles.
If it comes together, Hanks would play Walt Disney himself, while Streep would play P.L. Travers, the Australian author of "Mary Poppins," who Disney personally persuaded to let him make the magical nanny tale, only for their relationship to implode when Travers hated the finished product. It could make an interesting piece of material, and we like what we've read of Travers work, but we'd be lying if we said we weren't hoping for a more idiosyncratic director on board than Hancock, someone to prevent it from becoming a puff piece. That being said, "A Perfect World" is excellent, so the potential is there for him to surprise us. Disney are keen to get rolling on this before year's end, so look for this to land in the 2013 awards season.