Sales of Margaret Keane paintings soared ahead of the release of the film. Small paintings sold for $8,500 a piece. Director Tim Burton owns an extensive collection of her work. In the 1990s, Burton commissioned Keane to paint a portrait of his then-girlfriend Lisa Marie. Keane has also painted portraits of Burton's (now former) partner Helena Bonham Carter, and Burton's late Chihuahua.
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For research, Amy Adams consulted with the real-life Margaret Keane who was in her late 80s. According to Adams, Keane was overwhelmed by the notion that anybody would want to make a film about her life.
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Amy Adams liked the script when it was offered to her, but she originally turned down the role of Margaret because the character lacked "a stronger sense of self". Working on American Hustle (2013) gave Adams a new perspective of the character, and the character's "quiet dignity" won her over. The relationship between the mother and the daughter spoke to her as well.
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This is the first live-action Tim Burton film to feature neither Johnny Depp nor Helena Bonham Carter since Mars Attacks! (1996).
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This is the first feature film directed by Tim Burton to not feature actors with whom he had previously worked. While Batman (1989) was the first Burton film to feature a recurring actor in a major role, his early films featured recurring actors in minor parts. The film is also Burton's second biopic, his first film since Edward Scissorhands (1990) not to be edited by Chris Lebenzon, and first live-action film since Sleepy Hollow (1999) not to be produced by Richard D. Zanuck, who died in 2012.
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In 1998, animator Craig McCracken's cartoon series The Powerpuff Girls (1998) premiered. The leads are based on Keane's "waifs", and one character is named "Ms. Keane".
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Completion of the project took 11 years.
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The UNICEF painting that Keane painted for the '64 Worlds Fair, titled Tomorrow Forever, was never actually mounted in the Hall of Education. Robert Moses, who had control over everything that was included in the fair, hated it. Once the NY Times critic Canady trashed it (after seeing a photograph of the artwork) Moses had it thrown into the garbage. For Reference: boweryboyshistory.com/2014/11/robert-moses-rejected-this-terrifying.html
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Tim Burton and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel wanted to shoot on 35mm film. They ended up shooting digitally due to budget restrictions and the Vancouver Deluxe laboratory closing in 2012.
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Tim Burton's second biopic. His previous biopic, Ed Wood (1994), was released 20 years prior to this film. Both films were written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.
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Kate Hudson and Thomas Haden Church were initially attached to play the lead roles. They were replaced with Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Reynolds. After a year in development, Witherspoon and Reynolds dropped out and Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz took the lead roles.
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The blue book the two Jehovah's Witnesses leave with Ms. Keane, which she reads later in the film, is "The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life". The real-life Margaret Keane became one of Jehovah's Witnesses after the events portrayed in the film.
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Amy Adams's Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Comedy or Musical for this film was her second consecutive Golden Globe in that category. Her first win was for American Hustle (2013).
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Lana Del Rey recorded two songs for the soundtrack, making it her first collaboration with Tim Burton. In her song "Gods and Monsters," she sings "Life imitates art." Walter Keane says "Life imitating art..." Earlier in the year she did a recording for Maleficent (2014), which originally was set to be directed by Burton.
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Amy Adams replaced Reese Witherspoon in the lead female role. She previously replaced Witherspoon in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) and The Master (2012).
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This is Tim Burton's first live action film not to feature Helena Bonham Carter since they met on the set of Planet of the Apes (2001).
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The Keanes' house strongly resembles the work of Joseph Eichler, one of America's most influential architects and social visionaries. He helped establish the California Modern style from the 1950s to the mid-1960s by bringing high-end design concepts to the mass market. Signature features of "Eichler Homes" include glass walls, post-and-beam construction, A-frame roofs, and open floor plans.
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According to the producers at the Los Angeles screening, the production budget was $60 million.
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Reese Witherspoon dropped out of this movie to do Wild (2014).
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Margaret Keane was featured in a short article, "The Lady Behind Those Keane-eyed Kids", in the November 20,1970 issue of LIFE magazine, pages 57 and 58. The article includes five black and white pictures, with multiple pictures of Margaret, one of Walter Keane, and one of her third husband, Dan McGuire.
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The hungry i was one of San Francisco's most influential nightclubs in the 1950s. Originally located at 599 Jackson Street, the owner closed it in the mid 1960s due to declining revenue. A topless club on Broadway bought the rights to the name.
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The establishing shot of the courthouse shows the famous gold-leaf statue of Kamehameha the Great, the first monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai'i. The building behind the statue is Ali'iolani Hale ("House of the Heavenly King"), home of the Hawaii Supreme Court.
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Early in the film, Walter tells Margaret she's living in "fairyland". Across the Bay, in Oakland, is Children's FairyLand, a fairy themed amusement park. The park opened in 1950 and was actually an inspiration for Walt Disney's Disneyland.
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Many people cite the fact that Margaret had turpentine in her studio as an error, as the movie only mentions her using acrylic paint which is water-soluble. However, Margaret Keane painted in both acrylics and oils and would have had turpentine in her studio.
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Christoph Waltz asked Tim Burton if he needed to suppress his Austrian accent, since the real Walter Keane had no German lineage. Burton told Waltz his accent was fine and he should not worry about it.
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This was Tim Burton's first production not to be filmed with Panavision cameras.
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Amy Adams portrayed Lois Lane in the 2013 Man of Steel. Terence Stamp who portrays the New York Times art critic in Big Eyes had previously portrayed General Zod in 1980's Superman II.
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After Tim Burton joined Disney in 1979, he worked as an animator on The Fox and the Hound (1981) under the supervision of Glen Keane, an artist who happens to have the same surname as the main characters in Big Eyes.
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Danny Huston, a co-star of this film, directed "Becoming Colette" (1991), which shares the plot line of a man claiming credit for the work of his much-more talented wife.
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The picture that Margaret paints in the courtroom as proof of her artistic authorship matches the one created by the real Margaret Keane for the same purpose.
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The original script featured a scene in which Margaret Keane attempts to teach Walter Keane to paint. It was cut before filming.
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At the supermarket, Margaret picks up a can of Campbell Soup, subject of Andy Warhol's most famous print, just before she recognizes that her art is being reproduced on posters and postcards.
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After becoming one of Jehovah's Witnesses, Margaret Keane painted several works based on her new understanding of the Bible, and gifted them to various assembly halls in California, which can still be seen.
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When Margaret discovers that even Walter's Paris paintings are fake, she realizes that she has never actually seen him paint. Similarly, the audience never sees that either. The most they see is his adding one or two brush strokes to one of Margaret's works.
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