A starting point for the story's concept was the divorce of director Wes Anderson's mother and father, though the evolved story bore little resemblance to it. French director Louis Malle's works, such as his 1971 Murmur of the Heart, were an influence on Anderson, with The Royal Tenenbaums particularly drawing from The Fire Within (1963), where a suicidal man tries to meet his friends. A line from The Fire Within is translated into English and appears as "I'm going to kill myself tomorrow. " Orson Welles' 1942 film The Magnificent Ambersons was also an influence, with Anderson acknowledging he may have subconsciously selected the main set for its reflection of Welles' production. E. L. Konigsburg's book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, where the characters Claudia and Jamie run away to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, inspired the story of Margot and Richie hiding out in a museum. Having read the book, Anderson said it long stuck with him.