Universal Pictures is changing up its strategy for releasing director Danny Boyle’s buzzworthy biopic Steve Jobs. The film—scripted by Aaron Sorkin and starring Michael Fassbender as the Apple innovator—was originally scheduled for wide release on October 9th, but Universal is now opting for a platform release. Steve Jobs will only open in New York and Los Angeles on October 9th before expanding to additional North American markets on October 16th, followed by a wide release on October 23rd. In other words, if you don’t live in New York or Los Angeles, Steve Jobs is getting pushed back.
This actually may be a smart move on Universal’s part, which is gunning to add Oscar nominations (and wins, obviously) to its record-breaking 2015 tally. Jobs debuted at the Telluride Film Festival a couple of weeks ago to mostly positive reviews (read Brian’s mixed take here), but it’s not a straightforward sell to audiences given that Sorkin’s script is structured like a three-act play. Moreover, The Martian—which is scheduled to open October 2nd—just premiered at TIFF to strong reviews and, having seen it, I’d wager it has the potential to be a box office smash. So had Steve Jobs still gone wide on October 9th, it ran the risk of being lost in the shadow of The Martian on top of the nationwide expansion of Robert Zemeckis’ IMAX film The Walk.
Not that October 23rd is going to be a cakewalk. That weekend currently has five wide releases slated: the Bradley Cooper-fronted dramedy Burnt, the musical Jem and the Holograms, the Bill Murray vehicle Rock the Kasbah, Vin Diesel’s fantasy film The Last Witch Hunter, and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. Of course with Jobs now shifting its wide release to that weekend, it’s possible one (or more) of these films moves.