“Everybody who has an Apple computer or an iPhone” is how Universal Pictures distribution president Nick Carpou describes the target audience for “Steve Jobs,” the movie about the iconic nerd-turned-visionary that opens nationwide Friday. And he’s only half kidding.
Translating awareness into ticket sales will be the challenge for Legendary Pictures/Universal’s biopic on the Apple Inc. founder starring Michael Fassbender. It’s the strongest bet for a Best Picture Oscar nomination for the studio that is having the best box-office year in Hollywood history.
It will connect, take in $18 million and knock off Sony’s Jack Black family comedy “Goosebumps” for No. 1 this weekend, analysts say.
The film is also expected to hold Vin Diesel‘s action fantasy “The Last Witch Hunter,” which is looking a $16 million debut from roughly 3,000 locations. Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer‘s hopes that “The Last Witch Hunger” would evolve into a franchise seem a long shot now. The PG-13 action fantasy has gotten poor reviews, though presales in foreign markets should cover the bulk of the $50 million production budget.
“Steve Jobs” should also beat out “Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension,” the final installment in Jason Blum‘s landmark low-budget horror franchise. That became easier when its projected opening weekend theater count and grosses were halved to roughly 1,400 locations and $12 million when major chains refused to book it. That move was in reaction to a decision by distributor Paramount and two other exhibitors, AMC and Regal, to make the R-rated chiller available on video on demand earlier than usual.
Two other new wide releases are expected to trail far behind, heading for soft $7 million openings.
Bill Murray‘s comedy “Rock the Kasbah,” an R-rated comedy starring Bill Murray as a washed-up rock manager leading a tour to Afghanistan, plays and “Jem and the Holograms,” plays in about 2,000 theaters. a live-action musical version of the 1980s animated TV show, are both heading for soft $7 million debuts.
Expectations are similarly subdued for Universal’s PG-rated “Jem and the Holograms,” a musical adventure adapted from the ’80s animated kids’ TV show, that will play in 2,411 theaters. It’s unusual for one studio to have two releases on the same weekend, but Universal’s “Jem” targets teen girls, not the “Steve Jobs” crowd.
Director Danny Boyle‘s R-rated “Steve Jobs” posted the year’s best specialty debut two weeks ago and expanded solidly into 60 locations last weekend, so it comes in with $2.3 million already under its belt.
The reviews are good but ironically, the film’s social media profile is behind where Johnny Depp‘s “Black Mass” was at a similar stage on Twitter and Facebook. The film will play in 2,491 theaters.
The backstory on the film, which was developed by Sony, has even more big names. Director David Fincher, Leonardo Di Caprio and Christian Bale were involved and then opted out of the project, which was also the subject of leaked emails between producer Rudin and then-SPE co-chair Amy Pascal calling Angelina Jolie a “spoiled brat.” Sony put the $30 million project in turnaround, and Universal swooped in.