‘Steve Jobs’ box-office stumble may hurt Oscar chances

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Basically No One Went To See The New “Steve Jobs” Movie.

It takes more than a big box-office to win an Oscar, but dreary audience numbers for the new movie about late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has awards watchers wondering if it can effectively compete for the entertainment industry’s highest honors. Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs biopic has failed to impress at the North American box office, taking just $7.3m (£4.8m) in its first general week of release.None of this weekend’s new openers made much of an impact, and one, “Jem and the Holograms,” which made $1.4 million, even got the dubious distinction of having the worst opening ever for a major studio movie released in over 2,000 theaters.

LOS ANGELES • Moviegoers this weekend shunned Universal Pictures’ Steve Jobs, a sign that Sony Corp executives may have been right to dump the biopic of the Apple Inc co-founder.As the new biopic “Steve Jobs” continues to receive rave reviews, it seems appropriate to stop and take a look at its predecessor — the “Citizen Kane” of made-for-TV movies, “Pirates of Silicon Valley.” I’m not simply comparing this film to “Citizen Kane” as a way of drawing attention to its quality. With rave reviews, a strong early opening in New York and Los Angeles, and a revered figure as its subject, “Steve Jobs” was seen as a strong competitor for best picture, director, actor, and screenplay Academy Awards next year.

In contrast to screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s previous take on technology, The Social Network, which debuted to a cool $22 million back when Facebook was on the rise and your mom had never heard of Mark Zuckerberg, the life of Steve Jobs is a road well traveled. The film directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 2009) generated US$7.3 million (S$10.2 million) in United States and Canadian theatres, about a third of what BoxOffice.com analysts had estimated. The $15 million “Rock the Kasbah” opened in 13th place and earned only $1.5 million, and the expensive Vin Diesel vehicle “The Last Witch Hunter” opened in fourth place with $10.8 million. The Universal Pictures movie took just $7.3 million at domestic movie theaters for a total to date of about $10 million in what Hollywood trade paper Variety deemed a flop. “What was a lock (for Oscar success) before, feels less so now,” said David Poland, editor of website Movie City News. “If there is a relentless flop conversation about the movie in coming weeks, it will hurt more and more in terms of awards season because people don’t really give awards to flops.” Awards watchers note that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has never paid attention to commercial success, rewarding movies like “The Hurt Locker” and “Birdman” with its biggest prizes despite their small audiences. Sony sold the Steve Jobs project late last year after rejecting the cast and budget the film-makers wanted, a dispute that was revealed in e-mail leaked following a cyber attack.

However, “there is so much competition this year, the fact that (“Steve Jobs”) is a box office disappointment is not going to help it,” said Pete Hammond, film critic and awards columnist with entertainment industry website Deadline.com. “Steve Jobs” is the third major movie about the Apple marketing genius who died in 2011. The adaptation of the 1980s cartoon about about the quest of a group of aspiring musicians to become global superstars, entered the chart in 15th place.

Poor performances by the new films allowed “The Martian” to reclaim the top spot at the box office in its fourth weekend in theaters with $15.7 million. Its troubled production was drawn out in public, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale passing on the Jobs role and senior Apple executives chastising film- makers for their portrayal of Jobs. To him and many of the other PC revolutionaries, this wasn’t just an ambitious business venture. “We’re here to make a dent in the universe,” he intones. “Otherwise, why even be here?” As the shot pans back, we see that he’s talking to Ridley Scott (best known then for directing “Alien” and “Blade Runner”), who is in the process of shooting the legendary “1984” commercial that introduced the world to what would soon become the first popular personal computer. Variety said the new film suffered from fierce competition, possible public weariness with Jobs, the low profile of actor Michael Fassbender in the title role and too fast a roll-out nationwide. “We are going to continue to support the film in the markets where it is showing strength,” Carpou said. “The critics are there for it and the buzz in these markets is strong.” “It’s going to be fine at the Oscars. The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Rentrak:

We all know that Jobs wasn’t the nicest guy, that he had a tumultuous relationship with his daughter Lisa, and that he fought through a succession of technological flops before emerging triumphant with the iMac. Then we flash forward a decade-and-a-half, during which time Jobs is being hired back by Apple – from which he will be fired by the expiration of the film’s running time – by none other than his nemesis Bill Gates himself (brilliantly captured by Anthony Michael Hall). If you are a Jobs fanatic, you’ve already watched a ton of Jobs movies–on top of the derided Ashton Kutcher film Jobs (which made only a little less than Steve Jobs did on its opening weekend), there’s the Alex Gibney doc Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine.

The image of Gates looms over Jobs, deliberately evoking the Big Brother imagery to which we had been introduced mere moments ago, with Jobs barely concealing his inner anguish as he plasters a fake smile on his face and pretends he is delighted to be reunited with the Microsoft founder. Cook described it as “opportunistic”, while Mrs Jobs took to Twitter to praise Walt Mossberg’s review in The Verge which said that it did not reflect the man he knew.

For all intents and purposes, the rest of the movie will cover how Jobs managed to be transformed from the man who imagined himself destroying Big Brother to the man who would be forced to capitulate to Big Brother – and learn to love it. The Net isn’t just laughable by today’s technological standards, it’s purposely fear-mongering about what awaits unwitting web users. “The absolute worst film ever about the Internet is the one whose brain trust couldn’t come up with a better title than The Net,” wrote PC World Magazine’s Christopher Null. Boyle, Fassbender, writer Aaron Sorkin and British actress Kate Winslet were all among early favorites for Oscar glory in February, although nominations are not announced until January. But there have been a lot of dumb cinematic spectacles with technology as a central theme, whether they’re starring moronic hackers or hackneyed robots. At one point in the film, as Jobs and Wozniak run through the University of Berkeley circa 1971 (i.e., in the full throes of countercultural upheaval), Jobs remarks that “those guys think they’re revolutionaries.

They’re not revolutionaries, we are.” This theme pervades the motion picture – not merely an awe of computers, but a recognition that its creators realized they were going to change the world. For Jobs, the personal computer revolution was a religious crusade; for Gates, a ripe business adventure; for Wozniak and Paul Allen (depicted here as Gates’ number two, with a comic relief Steve Ballmer close at his heels), it’s a nerdy enthusiasm.

All of them, however, see something that no one else can recognize – the potential for personal computers to completely transform how we live our lives – and how that realization shaped their personalities, and with it history. No, the credit for those innovations belongs to countless obscure men and women – many of them employees at Xerox, which paid them to create marvels and then refused to make bank on their work because it didn’t appreciate what they had.

Jobs realized this and, characteristically, charmed Xerox into forcing its resentful employees to share the fruits of their labors with the self-entitled Jobs, who thought nothing of harvesting their bounty and acting like he had cultivated it himself. This brings us to the other scene that captures the essence of this movie’s greatness, an exchange between Jobs and Gates after the former realizes the latter has been stealing his innovations (much as Jobs did to the hapless Xerox employees), which I dare not quote here for risk of spoiling it for others. Suffice to say this much: This is as much a film about intellectual theft, and the grandiose egotism necessary to morally justify such actions, as it is about genius and inspiration and the world-changing technology they wrought.

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