Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures announced today that "Saving Mr. Banks" will open this year's AFI FEST on November 7. The American Film Institute's(AFI) festival runs every fall, and this year's iteration takes place November 7-14.
"Saving Mr. Banks" tells the story of Walt Disney(Tom Hanks)'s attempt to keep a 20-year promise to his daughters by turning their favorite book, Mary Poppins, into a motion picture. He invites the book's author, P.L. Travers(Emma Thompson), to Los Angeles to try and sway her into selling the movie rights. He soon finds that all of the planned storyboards and songs won't be enough to persuade Travers, who refuses to compromise and let her literary offspring be ruined by Hollywood.
Of course, everyone knows how the story ends, as "Mary Poppins" went on to win five of the thirteen Academy Award categories it was nominated in. But while many are familiar with the big screen portrayal of the magical nanny, very few are familiar with the behind-the-scenes struggle to get the film made. "Saving Mr. Banks" also stars Paul Giamatti, Colin Farrell, Jason Schwartzman, and Rachel Griffiths.
AFI FEST is Los Angeles' longest-running international film festival. It started in 1971, when it was known as FILMEX. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes the festival as a qualifier for both Short Film categories for the Academy Awards. The Opening Night Gala screening will be held at the TCL Chinese Theatre, formerly(and more popularly) known as Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Nearly fifty years ago, "Mary Poppins" premiered at the same theatre. Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, and director John Lee Hancock("The Blind Side") will attend the November 7 Gala.
"Mary Poppins" will also return to the TCL Chinese Theatre for a special screening during the weekend of AFI FEST. "Saving Mr. Banks" sees a limited release on December 13 before it opens wide one week later.