Steve Jobs Was Almost A Very Different Movie, Here’s How

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

That’s Variety’s take on the crappy turn-out for Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, which stars Michael Fassbender as the titular Apple cofounder, Kate Winslet as his long-suffering marketing exec Joanna Hoffman and Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak. 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.Universal has had a record-shattering run at the box office this year thanks to the titanic successes of Jurassic World, Furious 7 and Minions – but this weekend somewhat tarnished the studio’s glow. 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. By standards of Good Movies, Steve Jobs has a lot going for it: snappy, Aaron Sorkin-rich dialogue, excellent acting from a top-notch cast, sleek production values. 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.

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. After starting strongly with the year’s best per-screen average in its opening weekend, the Danny Boyle-directed Aaron Sorkin-scripted drama failed to make an impact nationally, taking a poor $7.3m over the weekend. 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.

To make matters even more embarrassing, the film didn’t do that much better than Jobs, the 2013 critically derided film about the former Apple co-founder with Ashton Kutcher in the lead role, which made a comparable $6.7m in its first weekend. 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.

Studio executives told Variety that they’re adamant the film can rebound, arguing that it performed well in major markets like New York and San Francisco (near where Apple is based), and positive word of mouth will quickly spread. 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. Jobs has already been the subject of a best-selling biography by Walter Isaacson, the Kutcher film, a critically acclaimed documentary from Oscar winner Alex Gibney that opened earlier this year, and countless articles following his death. 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. Many entertainment trades have blamed the casting of Michael Fassbender in the titular role as the main culprit in the film’s failure to cross over. 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.

Indeed, the German-Irish actor has never established himself as a bankable actor in the league of Leonardo DiCaprio or Christian Bale, who both passed on the project when it was initially with Sony, before Universal swooped in to save the film. The film’s performance calls to mind that of Paul Thomas Anderson’s last film, The Master – another thought-provoking and unconventional drama that opened amid deafening awards buzz. In 2012, the Scientology drama broke the record for the best limited debut of all time after opening in five theaters to astronomical theater averages. In the end, the film failed to even crack $20m, only netting just over $16m over its entire domestic run, which proved disastrous for Annapurna Pictures and the Weinstein Company, both of whom contributed to its $60m production and marketing costs.

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