Big Eyes

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Big Eyes
Big Eyes poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTim Burton
Written by
  • Scott Alexander
  • Larry Karaszewski
Produced by
  • Tim Burton
  • Scott Alexander
  • Larry Karaszewski
  • Lynette Howell
CinematographyBruno Delbonnel
Edited byJC Bond
Music byDanny Elfman
Distributed byThe Weinstein Company
Release date
  • December 15, 2014 (2014-12-15) (New York City)
  • December 25, 2014 (2014-12-25) (United States)
Running time
106 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million[2]
Box office$29.3 million[3]

Big Eyes is a 2014 American biographical drama film directed by Tim Burton, written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski and starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. The film is about the life of American artist Margaret Keane—famous for painting and drawing portraits of people with big eyes. It follows the story of Margaret and her husband, Walter Keane, who took credit for Margaret's phenomenally successful and popular paintings in the 1950s and 1960s. It follows the lawsuit and trial between Margaret and Walter, after Margaret reveals she is the true artist behind the paintings.

Big Eyes had its world premiere in New York City on December 15, 2014,[4] and was released on December 25, 2014, in the U.S. by The Weinstein Company.[5] The film was met with positive reviews, praising the performances of both Adams and Waltz, with Adams winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical and was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Waltz was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his performance and Lana Del Rey received a Golden Globe nomination for the film's theme song "Big Eyes".


In the fifties, Margaret Ulbrich leaves her husband and takes her young daughter Jane to North Beach, San Francisco. Supporting her daughter alone, Margaret gets a job painting illustrations at a furniture factory. While doing portraits at an outdoor art show, she meets Walter Keane, who sells Parisian street scene paintings. Soon, he proposes and they marry.

Walter goes to a popular jazz club (the hungry i) and tries to convince the owner, Enrico Banducci, to purchase their paintings. He only agrees to rent out the walls to Walter. A drunk woman is touched by one of Margaret's paintings and buys it. Walter fights with Banducci and ends up on the front page of the local newspaper. When Walter goes to the club again it is packed with curious people. Dick Nolan, a celebrity gossip columnist (the film's narrator), wants to know more about Walter's art, but is only interested in Margaret's paintings. Afterward, Walter shows Margaret how much they have made from the sales. He tells her they are a great team: she can stay at home painting and he will sell her works.

Walter opens up his own Keane gallery, promoting the art as his own work, and sells reproductions. Margaret is upset he takes credit for them, and feels guilty lying to Jane about who is the real artist. She decides to paint in a different style with elongated features and small eyes, so that she can honestly tell people she is also a painter. Walter thinks this is ridiculous and it might ruin their empire if anyone found out the truth.

Margaret and Walter move into a mansion. While going through a crate Margaret finds paintings of Parisian street scenes, all signed by S. CENIC. She realizes he paints over the name of the original artist, claiming the paintings as his own. When confronted, he says he always wanted to be an artist, but never had the talent.

Walter learns of the New York World's Fair and demands Margaret paint something to put on display; when she refuses, Walter threatens to have her killed. Jane finds her mother working on the World's Fair painting Tomorrow Forever. Jane tells her mother she always knew that she was the real artist.

At a party, Walter is angered after reading John Canaday's scathing review of the Tomorrow Forever exhibit and confronts Canaday. At home, he starts drunkenly throwing lit matches at Margaret and Jane. They run into the studio and lock the door, but Walter nearly sets the house on fire. Margaret runs away with Jane.

One year later, Margaret and Jane have settled in Honolulu, Hawaii. Walter will only give her a divorce if she signs over the rights to every painting, and produces 100 more. Margaret agrees and continues sending paintings to California. She is visited by two Jehovah's Witnesses who convince her of the importance of honesty. The next time Walter receives the paintings, they are signed "MDH Keane". On a Hawaiian radio show, Margaret reveals she is the real artist behind the paintings attributed to Walter, making national news. Nolan publishes Walter's claims that she has "gone nuts". Margaret sues both Walter and the newspapers that printed his version of the story for libel and slander.

At the trial, reporters swarm the Honolulu courthouse. The judge immediately dismisses the libel lawsuit against the newspapers, and Walter is left to defend himself against slander, even cross-examining himself as a "witness". The judge directs both Margaret and Walter to create a painting in one hour to prove who is the real artist. She paints steadily, but he is hesitant, claiming his arm hurts too much to hold a paintbrush. She completes her painting and wins the lawsuit. Outside the courthouse, she says she doesn't care about money and just wants credit for her paintings. A fan asks her to sign a copy of Tomorrow's Masters and she does, finally autographing her own work.

End credits state that Margaret later retired and opened an art gallery, while Walter continued insisting he was the true artist but never painting anything since, eventually dying bitter and penniless.



Writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski negotiated over the life rights with Margaret Keane, and wrote Big Eyes as a spec script. In October 2007, it was announced that development was moving forward with Alexander and Karaszewski directing their script, and nightclub operator Andrew Meieran fully financing an under-$20 million budget, through his Bureau of Moving Pictures banner.[6] Kate Hudson and Thomas Haden Church were set to star, and filming was to begin in June 2008, but was pushed back over prospects from a new Screen Actors Guild contract.[7][8]

In September 2010, it was announced that Tim Burton had also become involved as producer for the film.[9] Principal photography was scheduled to start in April 2012, with Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds attached to star.[10] By 2013, Burton had taken over directing and Big Eyes was set up at The Weinstein Company, with Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz starring. Filming began in July 2013.[11]

Big Eyes is Burton's first film since Edward Scissorhands to be edited by someone other than Chris Lebenzon, who had other commitments with Maleficent the same year.


Big Eyes: Music From the Original Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
various artists
ReleasedDecember 23, 2014
GenreFilm soundtrack
LabelInterscope Records

It was reported in November 2014 that singer Lana Del Rey would contribute with two original songs to the soundtrack. The songs "Big Eyes" and "I Can Fly", which Lana Del Rey wrote and performed, were leaked in December 2014; the soundtrack album and both songs were officially released on December 23, 2014.[12]

1."Big Eyes"Lana Del Rey4:41
2."Bludan"Cast of Big Eyes3:15
3."Doxy"Miles Davis & Sonny Rollins4:55
4."Hey Now"The Red Garland Trio3:41
5."Tropicville"Cast of Big Eyes3:10
6."Rik-A-Tik"The Lively Ones3:02
7."A Minor Goof"Cal Tjader3:54
8."I Can Fly"Lana Del Rey5:48
9."Opening"Danny Elfman3:59
10."Who's the Artist?"Elfman2:56
14."End Credits"Elfman1:12


Box office[edit]

Big Eyes earned $3 million during its opening weekend and grossed $14.5 million in North America and $14.8 million internationally, for a worldwide total gross of $29.3 million.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, Big Eyes holds a rating of 72%, based on 190 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The site's consensus reads: "Well-acted, thought-provoking, and a refreshing change of pace for Tim Burton, Big Eyes works both as a biopic and as a timelessly relevant piece of social commentary".[13] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 62 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[14]

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Steven Rea awarded the film three-and-a-half stars out of four, praising Adams' and Waltz's performances and the film's themes.[15] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone criticized the film's uneven tone and pacing, but admitted that it was a "heartfelt tribute to the yearning that drives even the most marginalized artist to self expression no matter what the hell anyone thinks."[16]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Association Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
British Academy Film Awards February 8, 2015 Best Actress in a Leading Role Amy Adams Nominated [17]
Best Production Design Rick Heinrichs, Shane Vieau Nominated
Casting Society of America January 22, 2015 Studio or Independent Comedy Jeanne McCarthy, Nicole Abellera, Coreen Mayrs, Heike Brandstatter Nominated [18]
Critics' Choice Awards January 15, 2015 Best Song Lana Del Rey for "Big Eyes" Nominated [19]
Golden Globe Awards January 11, 2015 Best Actor – Comedy or Musical Christoph Waltz Nominated
Best Actress – Comedy or Musical Amy Adams Won
Best Original Song Lana Del Rey for "Big Eyes" Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards February 21, 2015 Best Screenplay Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski Nominated [20]
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards January 15, 2015 Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Song Lana Del Rey for "Big Eyes" Nominated [21]
Capri, Hollywood 2015 Capri Actress Award Amy Adams Won [21]
CINE Golden Eagle Film and Video Competition 2015 Narrative Content: Feature - Live Action The Weinstein Company Nominated [21]
Gold Derby Awards 2015 Original Song Lana Del Rey, Daniel Heath Nominated [21]
Golden Trailer Awards 2015 Best Independent TV Spot The Weinstein Company, Trailer Park Nominated [21]
Houston Film Critics Society Awards 2015 Best Original Song Lana Del Rey, Daniel Heath Nominated [21]
Italian Online Movie Awards 2015 Best Costume Design Colleen Atwood Nominated [21]
Online Film & Television Association 2015 Best Actress Amy Adams Nominated
Best Music, Original Song Lana Del Rey, Daniel Heath Nominated [21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BIG EYES (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. December 10, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  2. ^ "Big Eyes". The Numbers.
  3. ^ a b "Big Eyes". Box Office Mojo.
  4. ^ "Harvey Weinstein Praises 'Big Eyes' Screenwriters-Producers at Film's Premiere". Variety. December 16, 2014.
  5. ^ "Press Conference For The Weinstein Company's "BIG EYES"". Yahoo. Archived from the original on December 16, 2014.
  6. ^ Fleming, Michael (October 15, 2007). "Alexander, Karaszewski think 'Big'". Variety. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  7. ^ Fleming, Michael (February 5, 2008). "Kate Hudson to star in 'Big Eyes'". Variety. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  8. ^ Fleming, Michael (April 2, 2008). "Church to play Keane in 'Big Eyes'". Variety. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  9. ^ Mike Fleming (August 19, 2010). "Tim Burton Reunites With 'Ed Wood' Scribes For 'Addams Family' And 'Big Eyes'". Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  10. ^ Sneider, Jeff (January 22, 2012). "Witherspoon, Reynolds land 'Big Eyes'". Variety. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  11. ^ Fleming, Michael (April 2, 2013). "Tim Burton To Direct 'Big Eyes'; The Weinstein Company Putting Finishing Brush Strokes On Deal For Painting Saga". Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  12. ^ "Big Eyes: Music From the Original Motion Picture". iTunes. December 23, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  13. ^ "Big Eyes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  14. ^ "'Big Eyes' Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 28, 2014.
  15. ^ Rea, Steven (December 26, 2014). "'Big Eyes': Pay no attention to that wife behind the canvas". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  16. ^ Travers, Peter (December 30, 2014). "'Big Eyes' Movie Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  17. ^ "BAFTA Nominations: 'Grand Budapest Hotel' Leads With 11 – Full List". January 8, 2015. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  18. ^ "Casting Society Unveils Artios Film Nominees". January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  19. ^ "2015 Golden Globe Nominations". Rotten Tomatoes. December 11, 2014. Retrieved January 1, 2015.
  20. ^ "2015 Film Independent Spirit Awards Announced". Rotten Tomatoes. November 25, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h "Big Eyes". Retrieved December 22, 2019.

External links[edit]