Steve Jobs Bombs at the Box Office in Its First Weekend: Here’s What Went Wrong

The Steve Jobs movie was expected to make waves in the box office after a successful initial release, but early predictions that it would be a box office hit look like they’re now way off the mark.

Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin, this Universal Pictures’ movie about the Apple co-founder and former CEO was expected to receive at least $15 to 20 million at the box office in the opening weekend, only to make $7.3 million, which is lower than half of what was predicted. Like the 2013 Steven Jobs movie which starred Ashton Kutcher, the movie placed 7th at the box office.

This is despite the hype surrounding the film and the excellent casting: the late Steve Jobs was played by X-Men star Michael Fassbender and Seth Rogen, who closely resembled the person he took the role of, Steve Wozniak.

However, despite the film’s box office earnings being less than what was expected, the biopic still received raving reviews – numerous magazines and review websites praise Fassbender’s performance – Rotten Tomatoes even lists it at 85%. The film is even considered to be in the running for an Oscar Award.

Compare this picture to the cover photo. Image: Universal Studios

Given the numbers, there are several factors as to why the the film was a big box office flop. Note that the film was budgeted $30 million and it may not reach that mark unless if someone with a marketing skill comparable to Steve Jobs will try to promote the film.

Anyway, here’s what we think why the film did bombed out:

It’s really not for a general audience

One of the reasons why the Steve Jobs movie’s performance in the box office has not been that stellar is rather simple: it’s a film not everybody can relate to. Sure, (almost) everybody loves Apple products, but the but not everybody has any clue of the inner workings of Apple. Ask a regular iPhone user who Steve Jobs is, and they will only reply that he’s the former CEO who died early in the decade. Beyond that, they may know a little more or nothing.

“Often sophisticated, intellectually charged movies like ‘Steve Jobs’ have a tough time gaining huge acceptance by a general audience.” – Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak in an interview with CNN.

Drama, particularly ones that are not about love, have a hard time hitting gold in the box office. It lacks the “fan service” appeal of some movies. Let’s look at Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Despite rating lowly in most critic websites, it still a box office hit: people dig explosions and robots mauling each other to death, not movies about people who changed the world.

Despite its awesomeness, it is too brainy and smart to appeal to a general audience.

Michael Fassbender isn’t a big crowd drawer

First off, give us this chance to say Fassbender did an excellent job portraying Steve Jobs: he did a phenomenal job and after all, he’s earned numerous awards and nominations.

However, he isn’t exactly a household name like the actors who were SUPPOSED to play Steve Jobs, like Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, and even Christian Bale, who are arguably larger crowd-drawers. He’s had a few Oscar nominations before, but has yet to establish himself as a cash cow. A study even found out interest in the film dropped by 7.9% because of the casting.

Aaron Sorkin’s formerly worked on The Social Network, which is surprisingly less than ideal

Sorkin exceeded expectations with Steve Jobs, but he received a lot of slack prior to the film’s release, with pundits and movie-goers even saying that it will be like another “The Social Network” which was about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. Sure, it was a great film – it was highly rated by pundits, but it struggled with realism.

Mark Zuckerberg himself expressed dissatisfaction with how he was portrayed., while co-founder Eduardo Saverin said:

“..the movie was clearly intended to be entertainment and not a fact-based documentary.”

This factor may not have been huge, but it could have turned off a number of people who wanted the real thing, not drama.

Michael Fassbender in the movie. Image: Universal Studios

Other factors, including the bad press Seth Rogen received in the past few weeks due to a tweet which called for calls of a boycott and other films like Goosebumps and The Martian, have played a role in causing the film to bomb out. Apple CEO Tim Cook implied that he didn’t appreciate how Jobs was portrayed, even calling it “opportunistic” in an interview with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show a month ago.

Regardless, all isn’t lost for the movie: it still has a few months left. The film hasn’t been released in most countries – they will have to bank on international revenue.

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