Big Fish is a 2003 American fantasy comedy-drama film directed by Tim Burton, and based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Daniel Wallace. The film stars Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter, Alison Lohman, Robert Guillaume, Marion Cotillard, Steve Buscemi, and Danny DeVito. The film tells the story of a frustrated son who tries to distinguish fact from fiction in his dying father's life.
Screenwriter John August read a manuscript of the novel six months before it was published and convinced Columbia Pictures to acquire the rights. August began adapting the novel while producers negotiated with Steven Spielberg who planned to direct after finishing Minority Report. Spielberg considered Jack Nicholson for the role of Edward Bloom, but eventually dropped the project to focus on Catch Me If You Can. Tim Burton and Richard D. Zanuck took over after completing Planet of the Apes (2001) and brought Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney on board.
The film's theme of reconciliation between a dying father and his son had special significance for Burton, as his father had died in 2000 and his mother in 2002, a month before he signed on to direct. Big Fish was shot on location in Alabama in a series of fairy tale vignettes evoking the tone of a Southern Gothic fantasy. Big Fish premiered on December 4, 2003, at the Hammerstein Ballroom and was released in theaters on December 10, 2003, by Columbia Pictures. It garnered positive reviews from critics, and was a box office hit, grossing $122.9 million against a $70 million budget. The film received award nominations in multiple film categories, including four Golden Globe Award nominations, seven nominations from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, two Saturn Award nominations, and an Oscar and a Grammy Award nomination for Danny Elfman's original score. The set for the town of Spectre still remains and can be found in Millbrook, Alabama at Jackson Lake Island.