This past weekend marked the theater release of a movie about the late and former Apple Inc CEO Steve Jobs, who carried his company through an era of innovations to build a very successful business that is widely recognized around the world. The movie stars Hollywood’s heavyweight, Ashton Kutcher, who plays the late technological genius in a film aptly titled “Jobs.” Although the Hollywood release is much too prompt in comparison to other biographically themed movies, I still cannot help but wonder whether the Hollywood investment is a little too late.
It was in fact only less than 3 weeks after the death of Steve Jobs in October 2011 that Walter Isaacson published the biography of Steve Jobs. Of course, this was a project already in the works before the unfortunate passing of the former Apple CEO. However, I still remember how shocked I was to learn of Jobs’ death in the prime of Apple’s success. Isaacson’s book added to a compelling story of the prolific innovator.
The Jobs movie, on the other hand, opens at an interesting time. The Apple company today has struggled against other technological competitors within the smartphone market. One such competitor is Samsung, who is eating away at Apple’s share of the market pie with its own equally successful Galaxy smartphone. Some customers have even sided with the price and sleekness of the Galaxy smartphone. Another TV commercial pokes fun at Apple’s robot, Siri, who seemed very impressed that the WIndows 8 tablet can to do “two things at once.” Although Apple is still a technological giant, it is nowhere near its previous record highs. Today, the company’s stock is trading in the upper 400 range, closing at $497/share on August 16; this is still almost 30% down its 52-week high from a year ago, where it closed at $702/share. Furthermore, Apple has frequently been in legal fights with Samsung, whom they have accused of patent infringements.
Hence, as Hollywood adds up the numbers in the coming weeks, it is certainly curious to know what will be pulling customers to the theaters – whether the story of Steve Jobs continues to serve as a draw, or whether at this point it is all about the transformation of Ashton Kutcher to Steve Jobs. Kutcher already captures a mirror image of the late CEO. Nonetheless, even though Kutcher is one of TV’s highest paid actors ($24 million in 2012 for “Two and a Half Men”), Kutcher’s highest box office weekend opening stands at $56 million for “Valentine’s Day” – a movie that mostly benefited from its huge Hollywood cast.
In short, as far as the “Jobs” movie goes, we will soon learn whether the story of Steve Jobs is equally successful two years after the print publication. It will be enlightening to know whether time has any effect on the same story of Steve Jobs as written by Isaacson in 2011, or as retold by Matt Whiteley for the movie screen in 2013. Matt Whiteley stands as a new writer, at least to the big screen. The movie is nonetheless directed by Joshua Michael Stern, a veteran director who also worked on Swing Vote (2008).
In summary, total results at the box office will help us understand whether the movie is a little too late, based on Apple’s appeal in the current competitive landscape. Alternatively, the Hollywood rendition could equally be too soon as Apple’s journey unfolds. Since most people have always closely associated Apple success inextricably to Steve Jobs, the blueprint he created for a successful technology company still continues to play out only two years after his death.