EXCLUSIVE: Open Road is near a deal to distribute Jobs, the film that stars Two And A Half Men star Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, the late high-tech visionary leader of Apple. Joshua Michael Stern directed a film that focuses on the trials and tribulations that Jobs encountered in his younger years as an innovator, from 1971-2000. The project was made independently by Five Star Features and is slated to close the upcoming Sundance Film Festival.
I’m told that Open Road will take on the film in a service deal with the producers, who’ll put upward of $10 million in P&A to release the picture; CAA negotiated the arrangement. Matt Whiteley wrote the script. I’ll provide more details when the distributor gets back to me, but I believe this deal will close imminently. It’s unclear exactly when the film will be released, but it will certainly precede the biopic that Aaron Sorkin is scripting, based on the Walter Isaacson bestseller Steve Jobs. That book was done in close collaboration with Jobs. While Sony acquired the book in fall 2011, just as Jobs succumbed to cancer, the studio has been moving at a deliberate pace.
Will a preexisting film like Jobs harm the Sony movie? Plenty of time will have passed by the time the studio film is released, but Sony’s expectation that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo would become a hit on the order of the Stieg Larsson book certainly was not helped by being preceded by a Swedish counterpart, which delivered films from all three books anchored by a star-making turn from Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander. Then again, Seal Team Six, the hunt-for-bin Laden film that was acquired by The Weinstein Company at Cannes and ultimately premiered on the National Geographic Channel, hasn’t dampened advance interest in the Kathryn Bigelow-directed Zero Dark Thirty, which Sony releases wide January 11 and which has established itself as a frontrunner in the Oscar race.