‘Steve Jobs’ Bombs at Box Office: ‘What Went Wrong’, the Industry VersionPosted: October 26, 2015
“There was an over-inflated sense of how well this film could do. Its only chance now is to gain awards traction.”
— Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations
The strikingly literate biopic about the Apple co-founder was brilliant she noted, but after Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale passed on the title role, it lacked a major star, limiting its commercial prospects. 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.
Fast-forward nearly a year. Pascal is out of a job, “Steve Jobs” has debuted to rapturous reviews, and the film is a strong Oscar contender. It’s every bit as good as Pascal thought it would be, but the then Sony chief’s wariness also appears to have been entirely justified.
“Steve Jobs” was too brainy, too cold, and too expensive to make it a success. Moreover, Michael Fassbender, the electrifying Irish actor who replaced Bale as Jobs, lacks the drawing power to open the picture.
Too ‘brainy, too cold, too expensive’ to make it a success? Oh, please. I prefer John Nolte’s analysis:
Everything other than the father-daughter story is subplot, and this wouldn’t be terribly interesting even if it were true. But it’s not true. Sorkin made it all up. Also fabricated is the central conflict between Jobs and Wozniak. Missing is Jobs’ legendary ability to inspire greatness from those around him. Jobs was no angel, few successful people are, but this still feels like a smear job.
Basically, Sorkin used the name Steve Jobs and the historical beats of the man’s life to tell a fictional story about a bunch of rich white people, their personal problems and eccentricities and hang-ups….(read more)
After racking up the year’s best per-screen average in its opening weekend and doing strong business in limited expansion, “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.
So what went wrong?
Universal believes that the picture can recover. Studio executives note that it is popular in major urban markets like San Francisco and New York, and argue that the film’s A minus CinemaScore means word-of-mouth will be strong. If it can stay in theaters until Golden Globe and Oscar nominations are announced, they believe it can rebound.
“We are going to continue to support the film in the markets where it is showing strength and we’re going to continue to do it aggressively and proactively,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s domestic distribution chief. “The critics are there for it and the buzz in these markets is strong.”
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.
“There was an over-inflated sense of how well this film could do,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “Its only chance now is to gain awards traction.”
Looking back, it’s difficult to see how “Steve Jobs” could overcome the commercial headwinds it faced….(read more)