The majority of Tim Burton's career has been spent in the world of the weird and wonderful with movies like Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride and Alice in Wonderland, but his next film looks like his most down-to-earth story since 1994's Ed Wood. Scripted by the same screenwriters as that film (Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski), Big Eyes is a true-life drama about artist Margaret Keane, whose portraits of figures with huge eyes became hugely famous in the 1950s and 1960s... under her husband's name.
Amy Adams plays Margaret Keane and Christoph Waltz plays Walter Keane, who married Margaret in 1955 and would go on to claim credit for her paintings for the rest of his life. The first trailer for Big Eyes has now been released, and it looks like Adams and Waltz were ideal casting: the former conveying the torture of seeing someone else take credit for her work, while Waltz comes across like a suitably smarmy and manipulative failed artist.
Big Eyes' story is the perfect basis for a compelling drama, and while Burton's films can be hit-and-miss this looks like it could be one of his better efforts. The director still manages to inject a little bit of visual weirdness into the story by showing alarming visions of the characters in the film from Margaret's "big eye" perspective. Since Burton is an artist himself, the subject matter was probably very close to his heart.
Big Eyes also stars Krysten Ritter (who played Jesse Pinkman's neighbor/landlord/girlfriend Jane on Breaking Bad) as DeeAnn, Margaret's friend, and Jason Schwartzman as Ruben, a San Francisco art gallery owner. The movie was produced by The Weinstein Company and is a step away from Burton's usual mid-to-high-budget studio work. In an interview with IndieWire last year Burton said that he felt the move to the independent scene could be a positive step for him.
"When you don't have the pressure of gigantic budgets…it can be good. Since I've only done studio things, it's like stepping into a whole other world. At some point, I should be ready for it."
With a Christmas Day release date, Big Eyes will be competing with Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Into the Woods and The Interview among other releases (check out our Fall 2014 Movie Preview for more details), but even if it doesn't end up being a box office success this still looks like an interesting addition to Burton's filmography.
Big Eyes opens in U.S. theaters on December 25th, 2014.