The Big Picture (1989 film)

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The Big Picture
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Christopher Guest
Produced by Michael Varhol
Richard Gilbert Abramson
Written by Christopher Guest
Michael Varhol
Michael McKean
Music by David Nichtern
Cinematography Jeff Jur
Edited by Martin Nicholson
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • September 15, 1989 (1989-09-15)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $5 million
Box office $117,463

The Big Picture is a 1989 American comedy film starring Kevin Bacon and directed by Christopher Guest.


In a fictionalized version of Tinseltown itself, Nick Chapman is an up-and-coming film director hot off the winning of a student award for his short film. The award captures the attention of movie executive Allen Habel (J. T. Walsh), who offers Nick a deal to make his dream picture: a character-driven, black-and-white drama taking place in a cabin during the winter.

Nick's also got a good girlfriend (Emily Longstreth) by his side and a best friend (Michael McKean) who is a struggling cinematographer. But when Nick experiences seduction to the Hollywood lifestyle, he changes on his friends and family. It doesn't help that he's got a smarmy agent (Martin Short), a starlet (Teri Hatcher) playing with his mind and the grim reminder that his less-talented and more self-satisfied classmates are working successfully in Hollywood.

After betraying his friend and girlfriend and compromising his principles, Nick ends up abandoned and desperate after Habel is replaced in a studio upheaval. A struggling Nick endeavors to restore the relationships in his life, and a kooky but loyal friend (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a classmate of Nick's, ultimately proves to be a savior to his career.



Greenlit by David Puttnam of Columbia Pictures, the president was ousted two weeks after production began, and the subsequent regime at the studio, according to Guest, were unable to figure out what could be done with the film as many executives at the studio didn't like the film because they felt like they were being brutally satirized in it. Columbia quietly gave The Big Picture a limited theatrical release (despite opening to positive reviews) before sending it to video.[1]


The Big Picture received positive reviews from critics, as it holds a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 22 reviews with the consensus: "The Big Picture aims at targets that might not be familiar to viewers who aren't well-versed in movie-biz chicanery, but hits most of them so solidly that laughter is only the option."


  1. ^ Slifkin, Irv. "Straight to Tape." Entertainment Weekly (March 2, 1990).

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