Big Idea Entertainment started out as a small design company by the name of GRAFx Studios in 1989. Originally intended to create logos and animation for commercials, it wasn’t until founder Phil Vischer teamed up with his friend Mike Nawrocki in 1993 that their focuses shifted towards animation. Since then, Big Idea has undergone many dramatic shifts in the company, from lawsuits to feature films to bankruptcy. Ultimately, these changes brought Big Idea to the Nashville area, where it has flourished since 2004 and continues to provide jobs for animators, writers, and, of course, graphic designers.
Big Idea’s primary intellectual property is VeggieTales, a faith-based animated series for younger children that retells Biblical tales using dancing, talking vegetables. Though it may sound bizarre on paper, VeggieTales’ charming appeal in addition to its early use of computer animation made it a hit throughout the mid-90’s. Over seven million Veggietales videotapes were sold in 1998 alone. The rapid growth of the company caused Big Idea to relocate to the Chicago area, where they undertook their first feature film, Jonah and the Whale.
Even though Big Idea was experiencing moderate success, a feature film proved to be too large of an undertaking. Many financial and internal problems, coupled with a lawsuit with VeggieTale’s previous distribution company Lyrick Entertainment, marked the beginning of several bleak years for Big Idea. After several years in production, Jonah and the Whale finally hit theaters but did not make enough to bring in any revenue for Big Idea. Lyrick won the lawsuit, and Big Idea, not having enough money to recoup for their losses, went bankrupt..
Classic Media bought Big Idea in a bidding war for 19.3 million, and the company was then moved to the Nashville area, due to cheaper operating costs, a lower cost of living, and a favorable tax environment. Since then, Big Idea has been through several ownership changes, released another feature film, and continues to be successful with it VeggieTales series.
For the foreseeable future, Big Idea will continue to be a valuable asset to the Nashville community.