Jobs (2013) versus Steve Jobs (2015)

One of the biggest pop culture icons of our time is undoubtedly the creator of Apple Inc., Steve Jobs. Eccentric and charismatic, Jobs had a personality that divided opinions on him as a person, but got unanimous views when it came to talking about him as a businessman. His vision on how a personal computer should be marked the beginning of the rise of Apple Inc. His second stint at Apple brought us the iPhone and iPad, creations that rocked the world of electronic gadgets. Somewhere in those years, he also went on to buy Pixar Animation Studios, put in some amount of money, and gave a push to turn it into one of the most successful Hollywood studios of our era. Along with this, Steve Jobs was eccentric, arrogant, brash, which makes his personality all the more colorful and his life story very interesting indeed.

Walter Issacson’s biography titled Steve Jobs was already in the works and nearing completion when Jobs passed away in October 2011. The publication process of the book was quickened and it hit the book stores within 20 days of his death. The book of course is fantastic, but it no doubt benefitted from the eagerness of people to know more about Steve Jobs at that point. It was an instant success and became Amazon’s #1 book of 2011 despite releasing so late in the year. Movie adaptations on Steve Jobs’ life were only a matter of time. And they came. Two in fact.

Steve Jobs movies_Posters

Steve Jobs would have cringed on seeing the debacle of both the Hollywood movies on his life. A man who believed in giving his customers the best experience, a genius who knew how to market his products successfully despite the intense competition, Steve Jobs would surely have handled these biopics better. The first movie titled Jobs released in August 2013; the second movie titled Steve Jobs and based on Walter Issacson’s book released in October 2015. Let’s compare the two.

Particulars Jobs (2013) Steve Jobs (2015)
US Release Date  August 16, 2013  October 9, 2015
Studio Open Road Films Universal Pictures
Director Joshua Michael Stern Danny Boyle
Lead Actor Ashton Kutcher Michael Fassbender
Production Budget $12 million $30 million
Worldwide gross $35.9 million $24.3 million
Revenues / Budget 2.99 0.81
% foreign contribution 55% 27%
Rottentomatoes Score 27% 84%

Steve Jobs (2015) was supposed to be the bigger movie, the better movie, the one everyone should have been waiting for. It had a bigger budget, a better cast, an Oscar-winning director and was distributed by a much more recognised studio. Then what went wrong? The movie may not be to blame considering the fantastic reviews which it received. The thing that went wrong may have to do with the timing of its release. It came four years since Jobs’ demise; by the time all those interested in his life and work had already read and seen what they had to, including Walter Issacson’s book. The movie did not promise to offer anything new which, being a biopic, it hardly could. A movie on Steve Jobs for a whole new generation might evoke a totally different response; in maybe 2050, Jobs would be a mythical legend whose innovations would still be regarded as marvelous, and then you might find the BluRay (or whatever new technology is out by then) of Steve Jobs suddenly being sought after. But for us, for now, this movie came too late.

Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs (2015)

Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs (2015)

Jobs (2013), on the other hand, was the one quicker out of the block. But it just wasn’t the kind of movie that a personality of Jobs’ proportions warrants. Made by a director with limited experience, Jobs failed to shine, despite a good effort by Ashton Kutcher. The movie though was made on a very limited production budget and thus its earnings of close to $36 million may have been sufficient to achieve breakeven for the studio after factoring in the marketing costs. You can read my review of the film here.

Ashton Kutcher in Jobs (2013)

Ashton Kutcher in Jobs (2013)

Steve Jobs’ life has the feel of a high drama, high intensity, inspiring movie in the making. A movie that should be ‘wow’-ing the critics and the audience, eventually turning into a huge success in the world of cinema. It needs to be timed perfectly; it needs to be told correctly; it cannot be a rehash of all that we already know so much about. Maybe it is decades away from now, but a Steve Jobs biopic that works on the box-office will find its place!


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