Director Tim Burton has been circling a handful of projects, to follow last year’s two box office disappointments Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie (though, the latter was a critical success). That includes the live-action Pinocchio retelling co-written by Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies) and Jane Goldman (The Woman in Black), in addition to the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children adaptation being scripted by Goldman.
Meanwhile, Beetlejuice 2 and a followup to Burton’s Alice in Wonderland are currently in the early stages of development, with the intention of getting Burton to commit as director somewhere down the line. However, before he (possibly) does, the filmmaker is going to make the biopic Big Eyes.
Big Eyes tells the real-life story of Margaret and Walter Keane, a couple who found immense success marketing paintings of large eyed children back in the 1950s and ’60s, with Walter taking the credit for his introvert wife’s creations. The project was previously going to be produced by Burton – with Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds playing the Keanes – but Deadline is confirming that Burton has decided to produce and direct instead, with The Weinstein Company providing the funding and distributing the motion picture in theaters.
The script was written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who collaborated with Burton on Ed Wood back in 1994; not to mention, they wrote similar biopics detailing the experiences of larger than life real-world characters for director Milos Forman (The People vs. Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon). Amy Adams (The Master) will play Margaret and Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) will portray her conniving husband
No doubt, Harvey Weinstein is planning to position Big Eyes as a serious awards contender next year, given the high pedigree of its screenwriters, two-time Oscar-winning leading man in Waltz and Adams filling the misunderstood protagonist role that features in every Burton movie (with Johnny Depp frequently assuming that position). Burton hasn’t tackled such down-to-Earth material since Big Fish – which still had its fair share of fantastical elements – so this is a refreshing and welcome direction for him to take.
Besides, it sounds like Big Eyes will allow Burton to do what he’s best at: painting a satirical, yet well-meaning and insightful portrait of American society, as presented through his skewed outsider perspective. Frankenweenie has enough old-school Burton magic to convince me he remains capable of telling the Keanes’ story with the right amount of heart and humor, possibly resulting in his best movie in years.
Big Eyes begins production this summer, probably with a late 2014 release date in mind. We’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available.