Released on June 3, 1988, Big is the movie that made Tom Hanks a star Well, sort of. Despite the movie being a huge hit, Hanks was still relegated to a series of less-than-great comedies including Punchline and Turner and Hooch before starring in a A League of Their Own in 1992, followed by Sleepless in Seattle, Philadelphia and Forrest Gump back to back to back.
Long before that incredible hit streak, Hanks delighted audiences across the country with the heartwarming Big. While it was the fourth-biggest movie of 1988, pulling in $115 million in the US alone, the film never hit #1 at the box office. Big came in #2 over opening weekend behind Rain Man, which hit the top spot for the first time over its third weekend on big screens.
Hanks was always director Penny Marshall's first choice to play the role of Josh in the movie, but originally turned it down because he was busy with other projects. After approaching the likes of Kevin Costner and Warren Beatty, Marshall finally landed none less than Robert DeNiro for the lead role. When his $6 million asking salary was too high for the studio, he walked away. DeNiro's involvement brought new heat to the project, so when Hanks was approached a second time, he jumped at the opportunity.
“A geek, a spaz,” Hanks told Rolling Stone about his own childhood in a sweet 1988 profile. “I was horribly, painfully, terribly shy. At the same time, I was the guy who’d yell out funny captions during filmstrips. But I didn’t get into trouble. I was always a real good kid and pretty responsible.” Philosophical, too. It made me flexible. It gave me confidence to think I can be in any sort of social situation and know how to gracefully get out of it.”
Big would make Penny Marshall the first female director in history to helm a movie that brought in more than $100 million at the box office.