Hang-ups with the marketing campaign for “JOBS” (formerly "jOBS"), the Ashton Kutcher-starring biopic about late Apple chief Steve Jobs, might turn out to be the best thing that could have happened to it.
Open Road Films' decision last week to move it off its original April 19 release date — timed to coincide with Apple's 37th anniversary — might be a missed promotional opportunity. But that date would have put it up against Universal's big-budget Tom Cruise sci-fi adventure film “Oblivion.”
“That would have been like an iMac going up against a Commodore 64,” Exhibitor Relations senior analyst Jeff Bock told TheWrap Monday. “JOBS” is an independent film, fully financed and produced for an estimated $8.5 million by Mark Hulme's Five Star Feature Films.
A spokeswoman for Open Road, which is marketing and distributing the film as part of a service agreement with Five Star, wouldn't comment on rumors that money problems stalled the campaign. She would only say Monday that a new date would be forthcoming soon.
Five Star's Hulme didn't respond to inquiries.
All that's certain is that "JOBS" won't be released before "iSteve," a Funny or Die film about the Apple icon starring Justin Long scheduled to be online April 15.
The plot follows Jobs' rise from college dropout to one of the world's foremost entrepreneurs. Joshua Michael Stern, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jason Richman, is the director. The duo previously worked together on the 2008 political comedy “Swing Vote.”
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As for a new date, “Maybe August, September or October” BoxOffice.com senior analyst Phil Contrino told TheWrap. “That's not to say it's an Oscar contender, but fall, when audiences aren't looking for the summer blockbusters, seems way more appropriate.”
Contrino, whose site collects data on movies' social media profiles, said “JOBS” didn't gain the sort of traction on Facebook and Twitter that a movie about a computer icon should after it premiered on the closing night of this year's Sundance Film Festival.
The reviews out of Sundance were mixed. It has a 43 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the bulk of notices coming from industry trade sites.“It more or less embodies the sort of bland, go-with-the-flow creative thinking Jobs himself would have scorned," wrote Justin Chang in Variety.
Nonetheless, both analysts think that the combination of Kutcher, who has a solid track record at the box office, and the subject matter will bring at least a degree of heat. “As long as they roll this out before Aaron Sorkin's, they'll be fine,” Bock said.
He was referring to the "Steve Jobs" project in development at Sony. Sorkin, who won an Oscar for adapted screenplay with “The Social Network” in 2010, is adapting Walter Isaacson's widely hailed biography, published just after Jobs' October 2011 death. No release date has been set.