Steve Jobs Makes His Big-Screen Debut In Alex Gibney’s ‘The Man In The Machine’: Specialty Preview

Summer is nearly over and swaths of industry and press are already looking to this fall’s releases (and Awards madness) at Venice and this weekend’s Telluride Film Festival, followed, of course, next week by Toronto. This weekend’s overall slate of newcomers is fairly thin with a couple of notable exceptions, particularly, a new doc about a maverick of Silicon Valley. Nearly four years after his death, the public fascination with Steve Jobs continues into perhaps mythical territory. Already, films have been made about the Apple icon, including, of course, the anticipated (and aptly titled) Steve Jobs by Danny Boyle, which will have its festival bow in New York next month followed quickly by its theatrical start. First, however, is the latest from Oscar-winning doc filmmaker Alex Gibney, Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine, which Magnolia Pictures is giving a sizable theatrical bow to in a day and date release this Labor Day weekend. And, RADiUS is heading out to over a dozen theaters in top markets with Chris Evans’ directorial debut Before We Go, after racking up a good chunk of change in an ultra-VOD release in July. And heading into its fourth weekend, Fox Searchlight is taking Noah Baumbach’s Mistress America into about 300 additional theaters.

Also opening this weekend is ARC Entertainment’s Chloe And Theo starring Dakota Johnson in a day and date release as well as Pantelion’s Mexican animated feature, Un Gallo Con Muchos Huevos.

Steve Jobs The Man In The Machine PosterSteve Jobs: The Man In The Machine
Director: Alex Gibney
Subject: Steve Jobs
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

By the fourth anniversary of his death next month, audiences will have had the opportunity to see three feature films made about Steve Jobs on the big screen. Ashton Kutcher portrayed the Apple maestro in 2013’s somewhat maligned Jobs, which grossed $16.13M at the domestic box office, while the anticipated Danny Boyle-directed feature, more succinctly titled Steve Jobs, will have its world premiere at the New York Film Festival ahead of its roll out in theaters October 9.

But before Michael Fassbender gets his turn as the late enigmatic, yet still most famous CEO in the world, Steve Jobs will unwittingly perhaps have his own moment in Oscar-winner Alex Gibney’s doc, Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine.

A premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, the film is a probing and unflinching look at the life and aftermath of the bold, brilliant and at times ruthless Apple founder. The feature explores what accounted for the grief of so many when he died, when Jobs fans placed flowers, candles and Apple paraphernalia at the door of its distinctive stores worldwide. The film explores his early days, capturing his evolving values and creativity, which continue to shape Silicon Valley and culture to this day.

“It’s about putting all the tidbit facts you’ve perhaps heard and putting it altogether into a digestible story that is otherwise complicated,” said Magnolia’s Matt Cowal. “It is not unlike what he did on Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief. For this film, he’s asking why [Jobs] was treated like a rock star when he died and he ties it to our relationship with the phone.” Going Clear had a short theatrical window before heading to HBO where it was one of the most popular documentaries broadcast on the channel this decade. Gibney’s Taxi To The Dark Side, which took the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2008 grossed under $300K in theaters. His 2013 title, The Armstrong Lie grossed nearly $382K stateside, while We Steal Secrets: The Story Of Wikileaks cumed just over $166K domestically.

Though it will likely not receive any push from Apple itself, Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine could possibly top his recent titles on the big screen, though the film will likely find its primary gusto on-demand where it is opening alongside its theatrical bow day and date. “We’ve done a lot of screenings with tech companies and start-ups ahead of the release,” added Cowal. “Jobs has such a high profile, so it’s about getting his image out there, and our release date is purposeful [a month ahead of] the Danny Boyle film. Interest has spiked because of it.”

Magnolia will open Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine on 65 screens in 50 markets this weekend including New York’s Lincoln Plaza and Sunshine and Nuart in Los Angeles as well as locations in the Bay Area and Apple’s hometown, Cupertino. It will continue to open new markets throughout the month and into October.

Before We GoBefore We Go Poster
Director: Chris Evans
Writers: Ronald Bass, Jen Smolka, Chris Shafer, Paul Vicknair
Cast: Chris Evans, Alice Eve, Emma Fitzpatrick, Scott Evans, John Cullum, Mark Kassen
Distributor: RADiUS

Going into the theatrical phase of its release, the directorial debut of Chris Evans has some ultra-VOD momentum behind it. Deadline first reported Wednesday in an exclusive that the romantic feature grossed over $1.5M via cable and digital platforms since its on-demand window started July 21.

Starring Evans and Alice Eve, Before We Go centers on two strangers who are stuck in New York City for the night. They start out as convenient acquaintances, but the two soon grow into each other’s most trusted confidants when a night of unexpected adventure forces them to confront their fears and take control of their lives.

“We’re elated to have the first pre-theatrical film this year to crack the Top 5 on iTunes,” said Liza Burnett Fefferman, RADiUS’ executive vice president. “[Before We Go] is also the only pre-theatrical title of 2015 to crack the Rentrak weekly digital Top 10 and subsequently remained in the Top 20 for three weeks.”

Chris Evans starred in Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s sci-fi action film Snowpiercer, which RADiUS released last year (grossing over $4.5M in theaters and over $9M on-demand so far). “Chris really liked what we did with that film, and we jumped at the chance to work with him again after seeing Before We Go in Toronto,” added Fefferman. “He is the kind of filmmaker any distributor would be lucky to work with and we simply can’t say enough good things about him.”

RADiUS will open Before We Go in 15 markets over Labor Day weekend including the Angelika in New York and the Arclight in Los Angeles. Evans has supported the VOD release and will continue backing the feature as it heads out theatrically, doing provider call-outs from the set of Captain America: Civil War and engaging his 2.7 million Twitter followers.

Mistress AmericaMistress America (expansion, Week 4)
Director-writer: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Greta Gerwig
Cast: Lola Kirke, Greta Gerwig, Matthew Shear, Jasmine Cephas-Jones, Michael Chernus, Dean Wareham
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Searchlight is eyeing a sizable expansion for Noah Baumbach’s Mistress America following a fairly solid open in mid-August. The distributor will add about 300 runs this Labor Day weekend for what is Noah Baumbach’s second 2015 feature, taking the film starring Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke, to over 450 theaters nationwide.

Searchlight had actually ramped up Mistress America‘s footprint last weekend, adding 118 theaters in its third frame, grossing $430K on 150 screens, averaging $2,867, bringing its cume as of last weekend to just under $910K. By the start of the weekend, the title will likely have crossed $1M.

Searchlight noted that this weekend’s expansion will be the second-highest screen count for a Baumbach film other than While We’re Young, which A24 released this past spring, eventually topping 700 theaters. That film, starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts and Adam Driver, opened in four theaters grossing over $227K, averaging $56,922 ($7.58 cume), one of the year’s best and Baumbach’s highest-grossing film to date, followed closely by his 2005 feature, The Squid And The Whale.

Mistress America is the second feature he’s written with Gerwig. They teamed up for the May 2013 release of Frances Ha, which opened in four theaters grossing over $137K and averaging $34,350. The title went on to cume just over $4M.

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