Steve Jobs is an intelligent and engaging movie loosely based on the legendary Apple co-founder's life, boasting an Oscar-worthy turn from Michael Fassbender, an Oscar-winning director in Danny Boyle, and an Aaron Sorkin script that Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal previously compared to a modern-day Citizen Kane. But such praise and overwhelmingly positive reviews haven't resulted in big box office numbers — Steve Jobs only pulled in $7.3 million on its opening weekend.
That's less than a third of the movie's $30 million cost, Variety says, and that total pricetag doubles when you include the cost of marketing the feature. Steve Jobs would reportedly need to make around $120 million to break even — an unlikely figure when you consider that it's $7.3 million opening weekend is scarcely half a million more than Ashton Kutcher's critically panned Jobs scored on its debut. These early numbers vindicate Sony analysts who, as shown by the emails leaked when the studio was hacked last year, said Steve Jobs might only make back some $30 million across its entire lifespan in North America.
The dismal general opening is a stark contrast to a record-breaking limited release opening weekend. The movie earned more than half a million dollars in its first weekend at just four theaters, finally pulling in $2.6 million for the two-week period it was playing in only a few locations. But as the movie expanded to play in 2,493 theaters nationwide, that success has not endured.
The movie reportedly cost $30 million to make and the same again to market
But Steve Jobs wasn't the only movie to see a particularly weak October opening weekend. Friday saw the release of Vin Diesel's action flick The Last Witch Hunter, Bill Murray movie Rock the Kasbah, and '80s cartoon reboot Jem and the Holograms. While The Last Witch Hunter's $10.8 million was hardly staggering, the $1.5 and $1.3 million notched up by Rock the Kasbah and Jem and the Holograms respectively were historically bad figures. BuzzFeed notes that in opening to 2,413 North American movie theaters, the live-action Jem reboot only earned $547 per establishment.
Perhaps movie-goers are saving their money for Star Wars, or perhaps the heavily fictionalized version of the Apple founder seen in Steve Jobs didn't resonate with people in the way the real man did in real life. Either way, the leaked Sony emails showed that Pascal thought she was sitting on a modern masterpiece. The Academy might back her up in that assessment, but from a financial perspective, her company's decision not to follow through with the movie seems like the right one.Check out Walt Mossberg's new podcast, Ctrl-Walt-Delete Ctrl-Walt-Delete is a weekly podcast featuring Walt Mossberg and Nilay Patel. For easy access to new episodes, follow on Soundcloud or subscribe on iTunes.