Tim Burton's next project reunites the director with his Ed Wood screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, for a memoir about mid-20th century art sensation Margaret Keane, titled Big Eyes. The biographical film examines how, during the 1950s and '60s, Margaret (played by Amy Adams) and her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) made a bundle selling artwork of figures with enormous doe eyes (see above) - with Walter taking the credit for his wife's work, based on the idea that her paintings wouldn't sell as well otherwise. However, when the couple eventually decided to get divorced, it led to a legal battle over who was actually responsible for creating the "Big Eyes" portraits.
The Weinstein Company has positioned Big Eyes to hit theaters at the end of the year, no doubt hoping to capitalize on the film's award season potential. Indeed, besides having five-time Oscar-nominee Amy Adams and two-time Oscar-winner Waltz as its leads, Burton's period drama has socially relevant subject matter (see: sexism in the arts industry) and was inspired by a true story that almost sounds made-up; as Adams told USA Today, "This all seems so theatrical, like something you would design for a film. But that actually happened."
Waltz also spoke with USA Today about the inspiration for Big Eyes, admitting that he wasn't surprised to learn that the Keanes' real story was a fascinating one worth telling:
"I remember the pictures from the 1960s, they were everywhere. We train ourselves to look for drama, to go for conflict because those are the stories worth telling. It would be expected that this (situation) too would be something extraordinary."
For those reasons and more, Big Eyes marks a welcome departure from Burton's recent string of big-budget live-action offerings (Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows) - films that have been praised for their visual splendor, but criticized for being hollow and lacking the mad inspiration of their director's best, earlier work. Big Eyes, by the look and sound of it (see the first screenshots released from the film, below), could be more in line with acclaimed Burton titles like Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, and most recently, Frankenweenie - movies that hold up a Burton-designed funhouse mirror to American culture.
Rounding out the cast of Big Eyes are such names as Jason Schwartzman (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Terence Stamp (Unfinished Song), Krysten Ritter (Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23), and Danny Huston (Masters of Sex). Indeed, the cast of Burton-verse newcomers provides all the more reason to think that Big Eyes could be a return to form for the director. At least, the film ought to feel a bit fresher than his most recent efforts.
Big Eyes opens in U.S. theaters on December 25th, 2014.
Source: USA Today