Rachel Griffiths and Kathy Baker have joined the cast of drama Saving Mr Banks, which has begun principal photography in Los Angeles.

The film tells the story of the relationship between Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and Australian author, P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), and the long journey to bring her famous book, Mary Poppins, to the big screen.

The cast also includes Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman, B.J. Novak and Paul Giamatti. Penrith-resident, 11-year-old Annie Buckley, was recently cast as Ginty (the young Travers).

Saving Mr Banks is a rarity in the Australian film industry: it began life as an Australian-UK co-production until US studio Disney became enraptured with the project and decided to fully finance it. However, two Australian companies are still producing the film: Essential Media and Entertainment and Hopscotch Features (as well as the UK's Ruby Films).

The film may end up in a similar position to British critical and commercial hit, The King's Speech. The 2010 drama, which starred Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, was produced by Australian company See-Saw Films although it was funded through the UK system.

In Australia alone, The King's Speech grossed more than $31 million at cinemas – more than half the $50.6 million that every Australian film released in 2010 grossed at the box office.

It is understood that Saving Mr Banks will not qualify for the 40 per cent Producer Offset rebate. While some filming was originally scheduled for Queensland, all filming will now take place in the Los Angeles area. Key locations will include Disneyland in Anaheim and the Disney Studios in Burbank, according to the Disney statement.

Saving Mr. Banks is being directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) and is based on a screenplay by Kelly Marcel (creator of Terra Nova), from a story by Australian writer Sue Smith (Brides of Christ) and Kelly Marcel.

Contact this reporter at bswift@www.if.com.au or on Twitter at @bcswift.

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