Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs movie had another disastrous showing at the box office over the weekend. With earnings declining more than 69 percent from the previous weekend to just $823,000, the movie was dumped from 2,072 screens — more than any other film.
By comparison, the new Bond movie Spectre took $73 million in its opening weekend.
The box office failure of Steve Jobs (no doubt much to the delight of Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Laurene Powell Jobs and others who criticized it) has been among the most disappointing of the year.
To give you a sense of how big we’re talking, the original box office projections for the movie’s debut weekend were between $15 and $19 million. As it currently stands, the film has so far earned just $16,684,073 in its entire theatrical run — not only less than many thought it would make in three days, but barely more than the 2013 critical failure Jobs, starring Ashton Kutcher.
What’s to account for the disaster? There are multiple theories I’ve written about before, but there was an interesting interview with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin over the weekend, in which he took issue with a frequent comment from readers here: that audiences have been put off by the movie’s supposed inaccuracies.
Speaking at Deadline’s The Contenders event, Sorkin said that, “I think there’s been some confusion about the movie,” and that, “There’s not a fact about Steve Jobs that has been distorted, perverted or invented except this: Steve Jobs didn’t have confrontations with five people 40 minutes before every product launch. That’s a writer’s conceit.”
Sorkin also noted that he would not describe the movie as a “biopic.” In addition, he poked fun at people who rigidly stick up for accuracy by saying that, “the Sante Fe Operahouse is doing an opera on Steve Jobs for the 2017 season. People’s heads in Cupertino, CA are going to burst knowing that Steve Jobs wasn’t a tenor!”
Personally, I can see both sides in this. I’m a huge fan of Sorkin’s writing and it’s tough to see a movie so well-reviewed get such a box office mauling. But I also think it’s slightly missing the point to say that people are complaining about what’s in the movie so much as what’s been left out of it.
I’ve never spoken to a single person who knew Steve Jobs during the first half of the 1980s who didn’t admit he could be a nightmare to work with on occasion. But the Jobs who returned to Apple in the late 90s (the period the movie ends with) was a very different, more mature figure than the one who screamed at people during the Macintosh era.
A lot of the criticism I’ve heard is less about Sorkin making up a ton of bad things, as it is about leaving out Jobs’ good qualities. And as we saw from the massive outpouring of grief when Jobs died, I’m not sure all that many people want to queue up to see a film about a person they admired being portrayed as a bad guy.
Steve Jobs is now playing in just 421 theaters.
Source: Box Office Mojo.