After a flurry of news reports Thursday that Open Road Films was actively trying to acquire “jOBS,” the new biopic about Apple mastermind Steve Jobs, the company has confirmed that it has purchased rights to the film three weeks before its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. In a service-deal capacity, Open Road will release the film theatrically in April in association with the project’s producers at Five Star Feature Films.
Ashton Kutcher stars as Jobs, who famously dropped out of college and went on to co-found and run one of America’s most innovative companies. Joshua Michael Stern directed the screenplay written by Matthew Whitely, which will trace Jobs’ life from 1971 to 2000. Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Lukas Haas, J.K. Simmons and Matthew Modine co-star in the film.
“We set out to find the perfect partners to present ‘jOBS’ to audiences worldwide, and we feel we have found one with Open Road,” said the film’s producer, Mark Hulme. “They were as impressed as we were with Ashton Kutcher’s inspiring and unforgettable performance as Steve Jobs and are excited to distribute the picture in the U.S.”
Open Road’s Tom Ortenberg, Elliott Kleinberg and Ben Cotner negotiated the deal with CAA on behalf of the filmmakers. Inferno Entertainment is handling international sales on “jOBS,” which will serve as the closing-night film at Sundance 2013.
Open Road, a creation of exhibition powerhouses AMC and Regal Entertainment Group in 2011, could use another hit with audiences. Its recent releases “The Grey” and “End of Watch” both became box office successes with $77 million and $42 million worldwide, respectively, on relatively low budgets. But “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D,” “Hit and Run” and “Silent House” failed to excite moviegoers, and “Killer Elite” bombed.
On “jOBS,” the company has opted to pick up distribution rights only, while Five Star will foot the bill for prints and advertising, a scenario that vastly decreases the skin Open Road has in the game. Before that opening, the company will deliver “A Haunted House” Jan. 11, the Steven Soderbergh-directed “Side Effects” Feb. 8 and the Stephenie Meyer adaptation “The Host” March 29.
The April release date for ‘jOBS’ ensures that the film will land with audiences long before Sony’s big-budget Jobs film, adapted from the bestselling Walter Isaacson biography by Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin, which has yet to begin production.