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Most critics agree that the new film about Apple founder Steve Jobs is really quite good. While this might bode well for the film’s award prospects going into the end of the year, awards don’t pay the bills. Good or not, the fact is that nobody has gone to see Steve Jobs. The movie has tanked at the box office. The only reason it isn’t being looked at as one of the biggest bombs of the year is because Jem and the Holograms did even worse. The film has been dropped by a frightening number of screens. Interestingly, director Danny Boyle thinks being on all those screens was the reason the movie flopped in the first place.
Steve Jobs saw a limited release in early October but two weeks later was in wide release and on 2,000+ screens across the country. Boyle now says that it probably should have built up slower. He told the He told the BBC:
It's very easy in hindsight, but I think it's probably that we released it too wide, too soon.
Considering the positive buzz that the film has received from critics, Boyle may be right. If the word of mouth had built up a bit more prior to the film’s release, people might have done a better job noticing it. Boyle told the BBC that he’s very disappointed in the film’s performance, but it doesn’t seem to bother him too much. He still hopes people will find the film because those that do "find it very rewarding."
While Danny Boyle may be blaming the film’s wide release for the failure, he’s not blaming Universal, the company that made that decision. He views it as a realization that may be obvious now but wasn’t necessarily so then. Instead, he praises Universal for saving the film, and helping to be sure it was made at all. The movie was originally going to be made at Sony but, as last year’s email hack revealed, the production saw numerous problems that eventually led the producer to move studios.
For what it’s worth, the Aaron Sorkin-penned film has outgrossed the other biopic about the Apple Founder from two years ago. The only problem is that Steve Jobs cost twice as much as Jobs, so while the first film became barely profitable, this one is still very much in the red.
Critics and awards groups rarely pay attention to the box office when doling out their prizes, so the terrible box office will likely not have a major impact on the film’s chances there. A strong showing at the Oscars may give the film enough press that it’s able to recoup its losses on Blu-Ray. Silver linings?