Features and Columns

A Brief History of Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs Biopic That Just Can’t Compute

By  · Published on October 3rd, 2014


Remember way, way back in 2012, when it seemed as if we were due to get not one, but two whole Steve Jobs biopics? There was going to be the super-serious, well-researched one with a bold script by Aaron Sorkin, and then also an indie feature penned by a total Hollywood outsider that starred a dude from That ’70s Show. It was a wonderful time, one that offered something for truly everyone. It didn’t pan out.

Sure, the Ashton Kutcher-starring Jobs was made (even opening at Sundance!), but Sorkin’s film is still in limbo, thanks to a slow cycle through directors (as of this count, just two, but two big ones) and its inability to lock down a leading man. Last set to be directed by Danny Boyle with his Beach star Leonardo DiCaprio on board to play Jobs, the Sony film has now lost DiCaprio (the one actor who was ever officially attached to the film), yet another bump in an increasingly beleaguered road. So what happened? Well, all this stuff.

October 2011: Deadline reports that Sony has bought the rights for Walter Isaacson’s hefty Jobs biography in advance of its publishing, with an eye to making a “major feature film.”

October 2011, later: Isaacson’s book is published.

October 2011, even later: Rumors abound that Sony is working off a short list of possible screenwriters for the project, including Sorkin. Everyone wants Sorkin to do it.

November 2011: Sorkin plays it cool when talking about the possible project, indicating that he’s only “thinking about it in stages.”

April 2012: Kutcher officially signs on for the indie Jobs, putting it ahead of Sony’s project, which is still without a screenwriter, director and star.

May 2012: Sorkin officially signs on to adapt Isaacson’s book for the big screen. At the time, the film is rumored to be called just Steve Jobs.

November 2012: Sorkin shares that his film will only include three scenes, specifically “three thirty-minute scenes that are all set in the lead-up to three major Apple product launches. Those three launches? The original Macintosh computer (1984), the NeXT Cube (1990), and the original iPod (2001).”

January 2013: Jobs premieres at the Sundance Film Festival (lit will later hit theaters that August).

February 2014: David Fincher is rumored to direct the film, reteaming him with his Social Network screenwriter.

April 2014: The Hollywood Reporter breaks the news that Fincher has left the film, reportedly due to a pay dispute.

April 2014, later: DiCaprio and Boyle are rumored to be involved in the project.

October 2014: Per The Hollywood Reporter, DiCaprio leaves the project totally, intending to “take a lengthy break from acting” once he finishes work on his latest film The Revenant. THR names a slew of possible contenders, including Christian Bale (who Fincher wanted to cast), Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Bradley Cooper.

Is Ashton Kutcher busy?

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