ⓘ Steve Jobs (film)


ⓘ Steve Jobs (film)

Steve Jobs is a 2015 biographical drama film directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin. Adapted from the 2011 biography by Walter Isaacson and interviews conducted by Sorkin, the film covers 14 years in the life of Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs. Jobs is portrayed by Michael Fassbender, with Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Katherine Waterston, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Jeff Daniels in supporting roles.

Development began in 2011 after the rights to Isaacsons book were acquired. Filming began in January 2015. A variety of actors were considered and cast before Fassbender eventually took the role. Editing was extensive on the project, with editor Elliot Graham while the film was still shooting. Daniel Pemberton served as composer, with a focus on dividing the score into three distinguishable sections.

Steve Jobs premiered at the 2015 Telluride Film Festival on September 5, 2015, and began a limited release in New York City and Los Angeles on October 9, 2015. It opened nationwide in the U.S. on October 23, 2015 to critical acclaim. People close to Jobs such as Steve Wozniak and John Sculley praised the performances, but the film also received criticism for historical inaccuracy. Winslet won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress and Sorkin won the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay at the 73rd Golden Globes, while Fassbender and Winslet received nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively, at the 88th Academy Awards.


1. Plot

In 1984, the Apple Macintosh 128Ks voice demo fails less than an hour before its unveiling at Flint Center. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs demands engineer Andy Hertzfeld fix it, threatening to publicly implicate him in the presentations credits if he does not. Hertzfeld finally suggests faking the demo using the prototype Macintosh 512K computer.

Jobs rants to marketing executive Joanna Hoffman about a Time magazine article exposing his paternity dispute with ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan – he denies he is the father of Brennans five-year-old daughter, Lisa. Brennan arrives with Lisa to confront him – she is bitter over his denials and his refusal to support her despite his wealth. Jobs bonds with Lisa over her MacPaint art and agrees to provide more money and a house. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak asks Jobs to acknowledge the Apple II team in his presentation, but Jobs feels that mentioning the computer which he considers obsolete is unwise.

By 1988, following the apparent failure of the Macintosh, Jobs has founded a new company, NeXT. Before the NeXT Computer launch at the War Memorial Opera House, he spends time with 9-year-old Lisa, but his relationship with Brennan is still strained – he accuses her of irresponsible behavior and of using Lisa to get money from him. Wozniak arrives and predicts the NeXT will be another failure. Jobs confronts him about his public criticism of him, and Wozniak questions Jobs contributions to computing history. Jobs defends his role as that of a conductor, who directs "musicians" like Wozniak.

Apple CEO John Sculley demands to know why the world believes he fired Jobs – Jobs was actually forced out by the Apple board, who were resolute on updating the Apple II following the Macintoshs lackluster sales. Jobs lambasted the decision and dared them to cast a final vote on his tenure, despite Sculleys warnings. After Hoffman and Jobs discuss NeXTs unclear direction, she realizes that Jobs has designed the computer to entice Apple to buy the company and reinstate him.

By 1998, Apple has fired Sculley, purchased NeXT, and named Jobs CEO, and Jobs is about to unveil the iMac at Davies Symphony Hall. He is delighted by Hoffmans strong commercial forecasts, but furious that Lisa has allowed her mother to sell the house Jobs bought for them. Hoffman reminds Jobs that he threatened to withhold Lisas college tuition – Hertzfeld admits that he paid Lisas tuition and suggested she attend therapy. Wozniak again asks that Jobs credit the Apple II team during the presentation, and again he refuses.

Sculley arrives in secret and the two make amends. Jobs and Sculley discuss Jobs life as an adopted child, and Jobs admits that his need for control stems from his feelings of powerlessness in being given up. At the behest of Hoffman, Jobs apologizes to Lisa for his mistakes and accepts that he is her father, admitting that he is "poorly made". Lisa watches her father take the stage to introduce the iMac.


2. Cast

  • Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs
Co-founder of Apple Inc. Fassbender acknowledged his lack of physical resemblance to Jobs, but stated that he was more interested in capturing Jobs essence than his appearance. In regards to how he aimed to depict Jobs, Fassbender stated he aimed to depict Jobs as a "somebody who was passionate about his vision" as opposed to a cruel person.
  • Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman
Apple and NeXT marketing executive and Jobs confidant in the film. When discussing her audition for the film, Winslet later commented that she "heard about it through a crew member who I happened to be working with. And spending time with her, when I was figuring out how to play this difficult part, she would become very emotional. She misses him terribly."
  • Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak
Co-founder of Apple and creator of the Apple II. Rogen admitted to not being familiar with Wozniak, let alone knowing he was co-founder of Apple. He met with Wozniak to prepare for the film, specifically picking up his tendency to move his hands around while speaking. In regard to Wozniaks relationship with Jobs, Rogen stated that "his feelings towards Jobs were very complex and interesting. Part of it was taking it at face value and part was reading between the lines." Wozniak stated that he felt honored to be portrayed by Rogen in the film.
  • Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld, a member of the original Mac team
  • John Ortiz as Joel Pforzheimer, a journalist for GQ who interviews Jobs throughout the film
  • Katherine Waterston as Chrisann Brennan, Jobs former girlfriend and Lisas mother
  • Jeff Daniels as John Sculley, CEO of Apple from 1983 to 1993
  • Sarah Snook as Andrea "Andy" Cunningham, manager of the Macintosh and iMac launches
  • Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, and Perla Haney-Jardine as Lisa Brennan-Jobs, Jobs daughter depicted her at different ages throughout the film
  • Adam Shapiro as Avie Tevanian, software engineer for NeXT and later Apple

3.1. Production Development

Sony Pictures acquired the rights to Isaacsons book in October 2011, hiring Aaron Sorkin to adapt it. In November 2011, George Clooney and Noah Wyle who previously portrayed Jobs in the 1999 TV film Pirates of Silicon Valley were rumored to be considered for the title role. In May 2012, Sorkin officially confirmed that he was writing the script, and had enlisted the help of Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, for historical accuracy. Sorkin later stated that his screenplay would consist of three 30-minute-long scenes covering 16 years of Jobs life.

Sorkin developed the screenplay around Jobs relationship with a few key people: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Jobs "right-hand-woman" Joanna Hoffman, former Apple CEO John Sculley, original Mac team developer Andy Hertzfeld, and Jobs first child, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, as well as her mother Chrisann Brennan. Sorkin had a chance to speak with all of them while developing the screenplay, including Lisa who did not communicate with Isaacson while he was developing his book. However, Sorkin has stated that much of the dialogue is fiction.

After Sorkins completion of the script in January 2014, development on the project began to heat up when David Fincher entered negotiations to direct the film, with Fincher selecting Christian Bale as his choice for Jobs. However, in April 2014, Fincher exited the project due to contractual disputes. Danny Boyle was then hired to direct, with Leonardo DiCaprio in discussions for the role. In October, DiCaprio exited, with Bale, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Bradley Cooper being considered. Sorkin revealed in an interview that month that Bale was once again cast in the role, with Seth Rogen entering negotiations to play Wozniak, and Jessica Chastain being considered for a part. Ike Barinholtz revealed he had auditioned for the role of Wozniak. In November, Bale again left the project, with Michael Fassbender emerging as a frontrunner to replace him, and Scarlett Johansson reportedly being offered a role before Sony put the project in turnaround and Universal Pictures acquired it.

Following the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack in December 2014, Sony emails were leaked which revealed casting demands as cause of delay in the films production. Also revealed in the emails were the details that Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey and Charlize Theron were at one point met with to discuss potential roles in the film.

Natalie Portman entered into negotiations for a role in November 2014, but withdrew from the film in December. Meanwhile, Jeff Daniels began negotiations for a role and Michael Stuhlbarg joined the cast as Andy Hertzfeld. In December, Kate Winslet entered negotiations to star in the film, with Fassbender and Rogen confirmed to star, and Katherine Waterston was cast as Chrisann Brennan. Winslets participation in the film, playing Joanna Hoffman, was confirmed in January 2015. Daniels was also cast as John Sculley, and Perla Haney-Jardine was cast as Lisa Brennan-Jobs. In February 2015, John Ortiz joined the film to play GQ magazine journalist Joel Pforzheimer.


3.2. Production Filming

Principal photography began on January 16, 2015, at Jobss childhood home in Los Altos, California, with additional scenes shot throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Production next moved to Berkeley on January 23–24, 2015 at La Mediterranee, a restaurant on College Avenue in the Elmwood district.

On January 29, 2015, filming continued at Flint Center, De Anza college the location of the original unveiling of the Macintosh in 1984. In late February, production moved to San Francisco and took place at the Opera House, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, and the Civic Center. Filming wrapped on April 10, 2015, after an overnight shoot in the San Francisco Bay Area.

To distinguish each of the three product launches depicted in the movie, Danny Boyle and cinematographer Alwin Kuchler implemented three different film formats: 16mm for 1984, 35mm for 1988, and digital for 1998. They also wanted each of the films three time periods to visually reflect Jobs own development at the time. For instance, Kuchler explains that the filming at Flint Center, De Anza college for the first act combined the graininess of 16 mm film and setting to accentuate a provisional, spontaneous look – much in the vein of how Jobs is portrayed at that time. The third act, shot with an Arri Alexa at the Davies Symphony Hall, incorporated an aesthetic and color palette that were intended to be representative of Jobs own design philosophies of the iMac and subsequent Apple hardware. Kuchler describes his experience filming Steve Jobs as "brilliant and challenging at the same time", and that the goal was to "make sure that the visuals kept up with the words", in reference to the productions collaboration between Boyle and Sorkin.

Costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb says the real Jobs never wore his trademark turtleneck jumper at any of the launches: "The turtleneck was the off book decision. In those 3 actual launches, in real life, he never wore that. In the 1998 portion of the film, in real life he was wearing a dark greyish/brownish suit. We made it for him as a back up idea in case we needed to adhere to it. As we got closer to the time of filming, I thought wed set up rules for 1984, wed set up rules for 1988 – theres so much of the film thats about design and he was about design." Fassbender also remarked that the historically inaccurate black turtleneck for the third act was intentional, believing that wearing the attire "felt like I had arrived at vision, that the person had arrived." Fassbender later added that he and Danny Boyle decided on this look during filming, and wanted to "give the audience kind of a payoff."


3.3. Production Post-production

London-based studio Union created the films visual effects. According to editor Elliot Graham, extensive film editing took place even before principal photography was completed. During the one-week rehearsal that took place in between production for each of the three acts shot in chronological order, Graham worked on the existing footage and received ongoing feedback from Boyle in the editing room. In an interview with Variety, Graham said a particular challenge for him was balancing the shot frequency and providing enough "visual interventions" to control for Sorkins dialogue-heavy screenplay. He described approaching each scene as "a series of fight sequences". Michael Fassbender provided multiple versions of his performance as Jobs, which Graham and Boyle then chose from during post-production. Graham also said: "Danny would be involved a lot but also take time away. He would say if Im with you the whole time, well always have the same opinions because were on the exact same journey."


4. Music

Daniel Pemberton composed the music for the film. Much like the films visual approach, the score is divided into three distinguishable sections, each corresponding to the intended feel of the act in which the section is heard. "You have the first act which is analog," Pemberton explains, "you have the second act which is orchestral, and you have the third act which is digital." For the first acts composition, Pemberton primarily used analog synthesizers, in particular ones released no later than 1984 – the time the first act takes place – such as the Roland SH-1000 and Yamaha CS-80. The second acts score is more operatic in nature, matching the setting of the San Francisco Opera House. Finally, the third act featured a more introspective score produced entirely digitally to complement its backdrop of the 1998 iMac product launch, and Pemberton correspondingly used his own iMac to compose this section.

The soundtrack also features songs by The Libertines, Bob Dylan and The Maccabees. The Maccabees "Grew Up At Midnight", the song that played during the films concluding scene, was reportedly chosen by Danny Boyle himself, who is a fan of the band. Other songs were considered for the final scene, even Pembertons own score before the song was chosen. The soundtrack was released digitally on October 9, 2015, and in physical format on October 23, 2015.


5. Release

Steve Jobs premiered at the 2015 Telluride Film Festival on September 5, 2015, and began a limited release in New York City and Los Angeles on October 9, 2015. It opened nationwide in the U.S. on October 23, 2015. The movie also served as the closing film for the 2015 BFI London Film Festival, approximately one month before its release in the UK on November 13, 2015.

Steve Jobs was released digitally on February 2, 2016, and was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 16, 2016, and includes feature commentary from Boyle, Sorkin, and Elliot Graham. The physical releases contain a 44-minute making-of documentary, Inside Jobs: The Making of Steve Jobs, chronicling the production of the film.


6.1. Reception Box office

Steve Jobs grossed $17.8 million in North America and $16.7 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $34.4 million, against a budget of $30 million.

In its opening weekend in limited release, the film grossed $521.000 from four theaters, for a per theater average of $130.250, beating out Sicario $67.000 for the best average theater gross of 2015. The film began its wide release on October 23, 2015, alongside The Last Witch Hunter, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Rock the Kasbah, and Jem and the Holograms. Over the weekend, the film was originally projected to gross $11–12 million from 2.491 theaters. However, after grossing just $2.5 million on its first day, it was revised to $7.4 million. It ended up grossing $7.1 million, finishing seventh at the box office.

On November 10, 2015, just over two weeks after its wide release, Universal pulled the film from 2.072 theaters in the United States. Variety said the film suffered from fierce competition at the box office, possible public weariness with Jobs and the low profile of Fassbender in the title role, and that the underperformance at the box office could hurt the films award chances. After his film was pulled from wide release in the U.S., Danny Boyle expressed disappointment at the box office performance of Steve Jobs, while suggesting that Universal expanded the films release "too wide too soon" and that the studios move was "arrogant".


6.2. Reception Critical response

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 86% based on 305 reviews, with an average rating of 7.65/10. The websites critical consensus reads, "Like the tech giant co-founded by its subject, Steve Jobs gathers brilliant people to deliver a product whose elegance belies the intricate complexities at its core." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 45 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim." At CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said Boyles "electric" direction "temperamentally complements Sorkins highly theatrical three-act study" and praised Fassbender in the role, who "doesnt closely physically resemble the man, It would be as if you made a movie called JFK almost entirely focused on Kennedys womanizing and political rivalries, and said nothing about civil rights and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Sorkin opts to end his story just as Jobs is poised to both reel off an unprecedented string of world-changing products and to mature into a much broader, kinder manager and person."


6.3. Reception Accolades

Steve Jobs has received dozens of industry and critics awards. The film garnered four Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor for Fassbender, Best Supporting Actress for Winslet, Best Screenplay for Sorkin, and Best Original Score for Pemberton. It won two, for both Winslet and Sorkin. On February 14, 2016, Winslet won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Both Fassbender and Winslet received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.