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The Big Picture (1989)

Film school grad Nick Chapman thought his career was made after his award winning short film, but discovered Hollywood wasn't as easy as it seems.


Christopher Guest


Michael Varhol (story), Christopher Guest (story) | 3 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Kevin Bacon ... Nick Chapman
Emily Longstreth ... Susan Rawlings
J.T. Walsh ... Allen Habel
Jennifer Jason Leigh ... Lydia Johnson
Michael McKean ... Emmet Sumner
Kim Miyori ... Jenny Sumner
Teri Hatcher ... Gretchen
Dan Schneider ... Jonathan Tristan-Bennet
Jason Gould Jason Gould ... Carl Manknik
Tracy Brooks Swope ... Lori Pressman
Don Franklin ... Todd Marvin
Gary Kroeger ... Mark
Alice Hirson ... Mrs. Chapman
Grant Owens Grant Owens ... Mr. Chapman
Fran Drescher ... Polo Habel


Nick Chapman graduates from film school, and his short film wins a special prize. This gives him a high enough profile that he can get Hollywood to back the film he has long dreamed of making. Studio exec Allen Habel is interested. But Nick soon is seduced by Hollywood and makes one concession after another until his original movie is lost altogether. Worse, Nick is lost, too, turning on girlfriend Susan and old buddy Emmet. Will he come to his sense before everything is lost? Written by Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Hollywood Reel To Real See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Also the last cinema film acting role of Eddie Albert. See more »


In Lydia's apartment she begins to raise her beer to her mouth in one shot, but in the next shot it's back by her side. See more »


Allen Habel: We're doing a picture in London right now and everyone is just freaking out.
See more »


Referenced in Dawson's Creek: Four Stories (2001) See more »


Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
Written by George Michael
Performed by Wham!
See more »

User Reviews

non-improvisational Christopher Guest
1 October 2017 | by SnoopyStyleSee all my reviews

Film student Nick Chapman (Kevin Bacon) is nominated for an award at the National Film Institute. He's competing against the wacky Lydia Johnson (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and spoiled arrogant Jonathan Tristan-Bennet (Dan Schneider). After his win, he has big dreams but Hollywood is more than his naive expectations. There's studio head Allen Habel (J.T. Walsh), his wife Polo Habel (Fran Drescher), and his mistress Gretchen (Teri Hatcher). Allen starts changing Nick's movie. He's infatuated with Gretchen. He dumps his girlfriend Susan Rawlings and old friends like Emmet Sumner (Michael McKean).

Martin Short's bad hair really threw me off for a second. It suggests a broader, sillier comedy than I expected. Luckily, it doesn't go that way but this is not at the later Christopher Guest level. It takes all the standard Hollywood behind the scenes and puts it on the screen. It's quirky but no big laughs. It hits the nails on the head. Nick is not much in terms of rooting interest. This is early in the inside Hollywood satires. It could be darker. The girlfriend role needs a better actress. The most compelling character is actually Lydia who reconnects with the movie for a short while in the last third. The movie gets a lot better with her energy. It would help if his movie idea doesn't look so utterly self-congratulatory art-house. Overall, this is a nice lesser known Christopher Guest film.

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Release Date:

15 December 1989 (Brazil) See more »

Also Known As:

The Big Picture See more »


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$33,071, 17 September 1989

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Aspen Film Society See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Ultra Stereo

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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