The Big Picture (1989 film)

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The Big Picture
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Christopher Guest
Produced by William E. McEuen
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 date
  • 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 1989 American comedy film starring Kevin Bacon and directed by Christopher Guest. As with Guest's other directorial outings, the film has been critically lauded and very highly rated by reviewing websites, and features performances from highly respected comedic talent.


Film student and would-be writer/director Nick Chapman, a native of the Midwest, finds himself the winner of a prestigious student film contest in LA. Overnight, Hollywood VIPs want to make deals with Nick. He settles on a quirky agent to represent him, and signs a deal with a major film studio to make his dream movie.

Nick finds the Hollywood studio "process" distasteful, and is forced to make many creative compromises, but he now has money and meets fast, new Hollywood friends. Likewise, the now-affected Nick throws old friends overboard, as his instant success crowds out his old relationships, including that with his girlfriend, Susan.

Nick's new world is suddenly turned upside down again when a new studio head decides to cancel his film project. Unable to strike any new film deals, college-educated Nick is reduced to entry-level jobs to pay the bills.

Ultimately, a humbled and repentant Nick reunites with old friends, and with Susan, and carves an unexpected path to getting his film produced, this time on his terms.



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, they 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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