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Tom Hanks To Open and Close London Film Festival with 'Captain Phillips' and 'Saving Mr. Banks' (TRAILER)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 8, 2013 at 1:42PM

The 57th BFI London Film Festival is going all in on Tom Hanks this year, as he stars in both the opening night film "Captain Phillips" and the closing nighter on October 20, Disney's "Saving Mr. Banks." The European premiere is at the Odeon Leicester Square; the world premiere of the film has yet to be announced. This battle of the Titans stars Hanks as studio mogul Walt Disney, struggling to wrest control of the movie version of "Mary Poppins" from dyspeptic London-based author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), who hated animation and wasn't even invited to the premiere. She showed up anyway, and wound up a very wealthy woman.
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Saving Mr. Banks

The 57th BFI London Film Festival is going all in on Tom Hanks this year, as he stars in both the opening night film "Captain Phillips" and the closing nighter on October 20, Disney's "Saving Mr. Banks." The European premiere is at the Odeon Leicester Square; the world premiere of the film has yet to be announced. This battle of the Titans stars Hanks as studio mogul Walt Disney, struggling to wrest control of the movie version of "Mary Poppins" from dyspeptic London-based author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), who hated animation and wasn't even invited to the premiere. She showed up anyway, and wound up a very wealthy woman. 

Julie Andrews as 'Mary Poppins'
Julie Andrews as 'Mary Poppins'

Based on the 2002 Australian documentary "The Shadow of Mary Poppins" and financed by Disney, this UK/Australian/US co-production is directed by John Lee Hancock ("The Blind Side") and is expected to be a factor this year's Oscar race. Early word has two-time Oscar-winning writer-actress Thompson as a strong Best Actress contender. 

The story flashes back to Travers' childhood in Australia with her beloved father (Colin Farrell), a failed banker, and unhappy mother (Ruth Wilson). Paul Giamatti and Jason Schwartzman co-star. Travers' past unlocks the key to the film, as Disney figures out that this semi-autobiographical nanny who flies into 17 Cherry Tree Lane comes to save the banker father of Jane and Michael Banks.

"Captain Phillips"
"Captain Phillips"

After developing the film, Australia's Essential Media and Entertainment brought the script by Sue Smith to Britain's Ruby Film ("Jane Eyre," "Elizabeth"), whose Alison Owen enthusiastically took it on, adding co-writer Kelly Marcel ("Fifty Shades of Grey") to the mix. BBC Films also came on board.

Hancock, Thompson and Hanks are all expected to attend the Closing Night Gala on October 20. The festival opens stateside on December 20.

“'Saving Mr. Banks' is very much about British manners versus American values, as Pamela Travers and Walt Disney battle over the rights to Mary Poppins," says producer Alison Owen. "So it feels absolutely fitting that the LFF Closing Night should be our European Premiere, and we feel very honoured. We hope Pamela Travers would approve wholeheartedly. We filmed the London sequences in the street where Pamela lived, and London was both the start of the journey for Mary Poppins and for our movie, so we feel like we're beginning in the right place.”

Clare Stewart, BFI Head of Exhibition and Festival Director calls the film "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!" 



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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.