Universal’s ‘Steve Jobs’ flick bombs: Why Sony was right to pass

“When Amy Pascal allowed ‘Steve Jobs’ to leave Sony for Universal, the studio chief fretted that she had let a modern day ‘Citizen Kane’ slip through her fingers,” Brent Lang reports for Variety. “In the end, Pascal, whose job was already threatened by a string of flops like ‘After Earth’ and ‘White House Down,’ couldn’t justify the risk.”

“‘Steve Jobs’ hit a stumbling block in its national release. It debuted to a measly $7.3 million, only a little more than the $6.7 million that ‘Jobs,’ a critically derided film about the iPhone father with Ashton Kutcher, made in its initial weekend. Going into the weekend, some tracking suggested that the picture would do as much as $19 million,” Lang reports. “So what went wrong?”

MacDailyNews Take: It’s pretty much pure fiction and anybody who knows Steve Jobs and who wasn’t paid by Universal, has lamented that the opportunistic little flick was even made, much less released.

“Universal believes that the picture can recover,” Lang reports. “It’s still hard to see how the film turns a profit. The picture cost $30 million to make and at least as much to market. That means that ‘Steve Jobs’ needs to do at least $120 million in order to break even. Given that the film is dialogue-driven and lacks a major star, its foreign prospects seem bleak. It’s almost entirely a domestic play, and so far it’s only made about $10 million.”

“Few would fault Fassbender’s performance, but his casting may have been disastrous from a commercial standpoint,” Lang reports. “A study by Piedmont Media Research found that audiences’ interest in seeing ‘Steve Jobs’ dipped after they found out Fassbender was headlining the drama. Having a DiCaprio or a Robert Downey Jr. in the title role may have broadened ‘Steve Jobs’ appeal.”

Read more in the full article here.

“Universal and the major studios are in the business of wide releases backed by a major marketing spend, not platform offerings, yet Jobs is playing like a quintessential specialty release,” Pamela McClintock reports for The Hollywood Reporter. “Universal wouldn’t comment on its decision to go wide with Steve Jobs, versus sticking to a platform run until Golden Globe and Oscar nominations are announced. Oscar winners including The King’s Speech and Birdman played for weeks in select theaters before attempting a nationwide break. And Birdman never played in more than 1,213 theaters.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You can’t call a movie “Steve Jobs” and then make up reams of total fiction. We know the facts. The graphical user interface was not stolen.

Poor Woz. We can imagine how they rode roughshod over him. Woz reportedly got $200,000 for “consulting.” There was no consulting; none that was listened to by Sorkin et al., at least. Otherwise the Woz character would never have said “the graphical user interface was stolen.” If Woz objected, which we assume he must have at some point, they told him “this is how movies are made, Woz.”

No, that $200,000 was paid to have Woz’s backing. It was for marketing and insurance, not consulting. So that these peddlers of lies could, if and when pressed, trot out an Apple co-founder and say, “Look, we have Woz’s approval!”

Well, no, geniuses, no matter who you trot out with a rubber stamp of approval, you cannot have Steve Wozniak say, “the graphical user interface was stolen.” The origin of the GUI is an essential truth. You can’t change that and have it come out of one of the last people on earth who’d ever utter it and expect to retain your core audience. “Steve Jobs” lost us the second we heard that line in the trailer. From then on, we expected the worst. We’re glad it bombed. It deserves to bomb.

Sorkin’s penchant for playing fast and lose with the facts and for concocting scenes and dialog out of whole cloth doomed this mess from the start. Hollywood may heap awards on this thing (or, hopefully, not), but it’s an opportunistic pack of lies regardless.

Aaron Sorkin ‘Steve Jobs’ fantasy flops hard – October 26, 2015
Steve Jobs’ widow continues to speak out against ‘Steve Jobs’ movie – October 22, 2015
Mossberg: The Steve Jobs I knew isn’t in Aaron Sorkin’s ‘Steve Jobs’ movie – October 21, 2015
Why Danny Boyle filmed ‘Steve Jobs’ in three different formats – October 16, 2015
‘Steve Jobs’ movie is fiction, blatantly inaccurate; yet another con job from Aaron Sorkin – October 14, 2015
Paid consultant Woz on ‘Steve Jobs’ movie claims accuracy doesn’t matter – October 13, 2015
Universal releases new 2:20-minute scene from ‘Steve Jobs’ – October 9, 2015
The Steve Jobs in ‘Steve Jobs’ is a fictional character invented by Aaron Sorkin – October 8, 2015
Jony Ive joins chorus of insiders’ complaints about new ‘Steve Jobs’ movie – October 8, 2015
The Strange Saga of ‘Steve Jobs’: A widow’s threats, high-powered spats and the Sony hack – October 7, 2015
‘Steve Jobs’ director Danny Boyle warns of ‘tremendous, terrifying power’ of tech giants like Apple – October 7, 2015
Forbes reviews ‘Steve Jobs’: ‘An electrifying interpretive dance of abstract biographical cinema’ – October 7, 2015
Steve Jobs’ daughter Lisa skips movie screening, but parties with cast – October 7, 2015
Philip Elmer-DeWitt reviews ‘Steve Jobs’ movie: ‘I loved it’ – October 7, 2015
Aaron Sorkin: Steve Jobs just wanted to be loved – October 6, 2015
The ‘Steve Jobs’ movie that Sony, DiCaprio, and Bale didn’t want is now an Oscar favorite – October 6, 2015
Michael Fassbender already the odds-on favorite to win an Oscar for ‘Steve Jobs’ – October 5, 2015
Steve Jobs’ widow and friends take aim at Hollywood over ‘Steve Jobs’ biopic – October 5, 2015
‘Steve Jobs’ biopic too nasty to win Best Picture award – October 2, 2015
Andy Hertzfeld: ‘Steve Jobs’ movie ‘deviates from reality everywhere’ but ‘aspires to explore and expose the deeper truths’ – October 2, 2015
Aaron Sorkin blasts Apple’s Tim Cook over ‘Steve Jobs’ critique: ‘You’ve got a lot of nerve’ – September 25, 2015


  1. “The picture cost $30 million to make and at least as much to market. That means that ‘Steve Jobs’ needs to do at least $120 million in order to break even. ”
    I know that cinemas take a cut, but even so, those figures probably highlight what is wrong with the movie business. I think they make too many films, the quality control is abysmal and makes them reliant on a handful of cookie cutter tentpole garbage films to keep the industry afloat.
    Other than negative reviews I’ve not seen any advertising either, I don’t know where the $30m went.

  2. Good that it bombed. Opportunistic and disrespectful, this was a cheap move.

    R.I.P. Steve Jobs may your memory linger in truth, respect and reverence for the world.

    1. Here’s the reason:

      1. Two thirds of the world doesn’t know who Steve Jobs is.
      2. Of the one third that do, two thirds of those hate Steve Jobs and Apple.
      3. Of those that left over that would have wanted to see a movie about Steve Jobs, they weren’t interested in a fictionalized drama that was more about the writer and director than it was about Steve. The real Steve Jobs saga didn’t need fictionalizing. It is already a stunning story of brilliance, success, failure and redemption.

      Someone give us that movie.

    1. overheard at Universal Pictures marketing meeting:

      Frank: “We could have Lisa in a Steve McQueen 1968 Ford Mustang 390 chasing Jobs in his evil Dodge Charger 440 Magnum through Palo Alto! Jobs has the secret formula for the stolen PARC GUI!”
      Bob: “But, Frank, Lisa was born in 1978, I don’t think she’d be old enough to be able to drive.”
      Frank: “Big fücking deal, Frank, this is a Sorkin movie…work with me.”
      Bob: “Okay, Frank.”

  3. If we’re talking about the movie business, in 2015 “Dramas” just do not sell as theatrical releases. Even Steven Spielberg in interviews discussed this difficulty in regards to his film Lincoln . . . Basically, dramas have moved to TV — after you have binge watched 20 episodes of a TV series, with the detailed character development, it’s difficult to walk into a movie theater and watch a full story in 2 hours–it just feels abbreviated . . . at some point in time, many people will have seen the film Steve Jobs (even detractors will watch it out of curiosity), but it will likely be seen on the TV in their home.

    1. Yes, maybe so, but ‘Dramas’ also win ‘Oscars’.. which would be the real prize. If Fassbender/Boyle/Sorkin win even one award, the movie is a success, and none of this ‘flopping’/cheerleading will mean a damn.

      Wanna make money, make another F’n Avengers movie. Box Office receipts are not the mark of a great movie, or a great story.

    2. Ouch! Now your suggestion is in the air, Steve Jobs as a dramatic TV series. It could go on for years dissecting each phase of his life. Add in flash backs and made up drama to fill in the blanks and you’d easily have a 10 years series. Maybe A&E could air it, they did such a good job with “halt and catch fire”.

  4. Even if you were trying to make a CITIZEN KANE they didn’t use William Randolph Hearst’s real name in it but the made up Charles Foster Kane. It would have been fun to see a clever amalgam of various tech types in a fictional tech Grand Guignol creative endeavor but nothing about Sorkin’s STEVE JOBS is remotely clever. Simply taking liberties and no rhyme or reason to the proceedings, however well acted, was pointless. Having heard from and seeing Sorkin in the flesh at a screening he is a big whine baby who met his match with material he was clueless about.

      1. Yes how the mighty have fallen. STEVE JOBS looks to be written by a rank amateur with nothing about it redeemable save the acting. A total miscalculation, but it was amusing to hear him trying to justify his approach to which I heartily pass back a “FY.” Just more self-congratulatory back-patting writer double talk when what he meant to say is “I got nothin’.”

        1. Much will be said about this movie but ‘Bad Writing’ isn’t it. Most will say “Dude looks nothing like Steve Jobs” and “Dude’s a douche” and “I didn’t know Woz got high”..

          1. The writing DID suck as it was a total confused mess about it’s subject matter. It became meaningless and irrelevant the moment too many liberties were taken that had no pay off. It failed to convey the true significance of Jobs except in a very superficial way. It was not a fully formed life as presented on screen but extremely one-sided. You could show Jobs triumphs, agonies and less then exemplary human behavior but at the end of the day it should not have been ambiguous about the greater good of what Jobs did. But writers like Sorkin think upbeat endings are an anathema.

            1. “It failed to convey the true significance of Jobs except in a very superficial way”

              That’s not a writing problem. You just don’t like that it wasn’t a biopic. This is topic is so fucked out. Watch any interview with Sorkin. The quality of the dialog, etc is actually compelling.

            2. Only as a vehicle for the fans of Sorkin style writing. Faulty screenplays ARE a writing problem. I didn’t care if it was or wasn’t a traditional biopic but I think Sorkin failed on any level with his subject matter, brilliant or dullard dialog notwithstanding. I was at an Academy screening and the only thing I’ve been to recently that got even less love was TOMORROWLAND. I could sense what he’s was shooting for but he aimed, fired and missed badly IMHO.

  5. Now all we have to do is watch it spend eternity on Netflix (along with ‘Truth’) ruining younger minds about reality.

    They ought to have a separate category called “Hollywood Revisionism” with ‘JFK’, ‘Mississippi Burning’, ‘Selma’, ‘All the President’s Men’ and so forth.

    It would be a HUGE f’ing category…..

    1. Exactly. These folks will be doddering old men playing shuffleboard in their Malibu mansions and the poison they’ve introduced will still be making the rounds. To say they are irresponsible is a massive understatement.

      1. When you are dealing with something as inflammatory as race, it is imperative to get the details a correct as possible. That’s where Mississippi Burning, The Butler and pretty much all of them fail. They just HAVE to make it worse, shift blames, leave out root causes. Yo want to get past racism? Quit lying and sugar coating the truths (in general, not you personally).


        It’s bad enough schools never mention the truth about the ’57 Civil Rights Bill (yes, the one the Republicans authored and pushed, but the Democrats blocked most of) where the Klan came from, what party perpetuated separate but equal until they found a way to buy Blacks votes, it’s all pathetic, just like the current media agenda to whip up a racial frenzy for a story.

        (Hah! Just as I go to hit the Post button Henley’s ‘Dirty Laundry’ comes on!!!)

            1. No, it’s not politics. It’s just brainless ranting, you poisonous fuck. This is supposed to be a Mac NEWS Site, not a “What does bombastic TowerTone think of various irrelevant social issues?” site. Go to some social issues site and rant all you want.

            2. Oh, what’s wrong, Little Lefty Loser, got no game?
              Poisonous is exactly what this thread is about, and the mindless Left perpetuates these bullshit falsehoods.

              I am not about to claim the right has no faults, but when it comes to this kind of mass reality indifference, be it a movie on Steve Jobs (Hollywood), a view of race relations (brain-dead media), or threatening scientist with a cut in funding if they don’t tow the Über Left’s Agenda in Global Wealth Acquisition (your New Democrat World Alignment), it shifts to political BECAUSE the Left has put this at the forefront of their agenda.

              And the fact that you are ashamed enough of this crap to deny it only shows you might have an ounce of intelligence left in seeing its stupidity. We’ll see.

            3. “Well, he figured lefties would be as blown away by this nonsense…”

              “Rubbish” is nothing to do with political affiliation. Your construction above is so profoundly stupid! Wow!

              Why is it that when a post on this site is full of spittle-flecked, hate-filled raving, it’s nearly always coming from the right? Hmmm. Interesting.

            4. I don’t know, John. Why don’t you ask Sean? Or did his posts seem reasonable to you?

              What’s odd to me is when someone complains about hate with facts, HE becomes the hater. Way to shut down any discussion. Mighty Hollywood of ya’.


  7. I would like to hope that the failure is the public’s response to Sorkin’s “freedom from reality.” Maybe the next time he tries a character assassination, he’ll attack someone living who can defend himself!

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