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Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs Script Described As “Brilliant” & “Masterful” By Sony Exec; Tom Cruise Was Eyed To Lead

Aaron Sorkin's Steve Jobs Script Described As "Brilliant" & "Masterful" By Sony Exec; Tom Cruise Was Eyed To Lead

The last few weeks haven’t been great for Sony, and that’s mostly been due to the massive breach of security by a hacker group known as Guardians Of Peace, whose theft of the studio’s documents have opened an ugly window on their operations. It’s the kind of insider stuff that likely happens at most studios, but that stays behind closed doors. Sony also recently saw their high profile Steve Jobs biopic, “Jobs,” put into turnaround and snapped up by Universal. There wasn’t much word at the time about why it happened, but in an explosive piece culled from leaked emails, Defamer reveals the ugly showdown that was going on all year between producer Scott Rudin and Sony exec Amy Pascal about how to get the movie made.

Frankly, it’s probably best to jump over to that blog to get all the details, but the short version is the pair were headbutting almost from the start. Pascal had concerns about David Fincher potentially directing “Jobs” instead of “Cleopatra” for Angelina Jolie, there were issues about financing, and debates about possibly partnering with Megan Ellison. The end result was Rudin taking the project elsewhere, and whether or not it gets made still remains to be seen. But the real bummer? The movie sounds great.

In an email earlier this year from Sony marketing executive Michael Pavlic to Pascal, he flipped for Aaron Sorkin‘s “Jobs” script. As you’ll recall, the movie is structured around three Apple product launches, and it appears that Sorkin wasn’t kidding when called his 181-page screenplay dialogue heavy. But Pavlic seems to have loved every word. Here’s some of what he had to say: 

It’s brilliant. It’s perfect.
I will say it was a constant battle for me between movie lover and my actual job of marketer… but it’s truly masterful.
Let’s take the obvious off the table here – there are marketing liabilities to this script. It’s long, it’s claustrophobic, it’s talky, it could be a play, it risks being all one medium close up, it’s periody….

….It’s a mediation on Jobs himself. It’s one of his early computers – closed end to end. It’s insistent upon itself, it’s relentless. I kept begging for someone to walk outside, for some daylight, for an opening. But Sorkin is so brilliant with the structure. Of course, at the film’s end he gives you that break into the parking lot. A convenient door to a different world. Just when Jobs lets up, the script finally breathes for the first time. It’s really spectacular. All obvious stuff but I’m a sucker for layered, thoughtful filmmaking.

Sure it’s got a marketing issues but I think it also has the panacea for those – I believe it will be brilliant. I do think the one thing that can hinder that is if it’s too long. I think people will endure anything for quality but if it’s 3 hours we’ll lose out. But that’s all way down the road….

….This is the kind of film that makes me thankful for movies and they’re few and far between these days.

Thank you for sharing. It’s really the kind of thing that gets in you and stays with you for days. It’s exciting.

Um, wow. Amidst all the bad blood boiling, there was a great movie waiting to made, which is a shame. But thankfully, it seems to have escaped, with Universal now trying to make it happen. But there’s this question: will they greenlight a three-hour, contained talk-a-thon? Even the Sony exec concedes that marketing might be a tough challenge, saying, “The script is a [perfect] 10 but in the wrong hands it grosses mid 30’s,” though he also adds its risk is worth taking because it’s the “full package” and “people deserve this kind of movie.”

But that balance, of doing right by the movie and making sure it has all the elements that will make audiences would show up, made casting a tricky decision. Leonardo DiCaprio was heavily sought for the lead role before passing, and while Christian Bale was briefly linked, Sorkin had his own idea about who should lead: Tom Cruise.

Ars Technica reveals the screenwriter made a pitch for Cruise, saying “everyone agrees that he’s an actor who can really handle language.” And while director Danny Boyle had concerns “that the choice will be met with derision because it’s such a commercial choice but I honestly think that ends up working for us.”

“Tom’s going to surprise some people and they’ll want to reward that. I don’t think we’d have to recast Woz,” Sorkin continued in an email. “Seth [Rogen]‘s the right age in the first act and Tom’s the right age in the third. And the movie announces itself pretty quickly as not being literal — as being a painting rather than a photograph. Look, I wouldn’t cast Clint Eastwood but if I saw Tom Cruise flying around the backstage corridors of Symphony Hall I wouldn’t think he was too old. I think it would be dazzling performance.”

And when the decision was made to cast Michael Fassbender instead, Sorkin was initially displeased, writing, “I don’t know who Michael Fassbender is and the rest of the world isn’t going to care. This is insane.”  But he quickly changed his tune. “Fuck it. He’s a great actor whose time has come….if the movie’s good, he’ll be on the cover of everything and get nominated for everything.”

This is all a fascinating window into what really happens when it comes to making a movie. And if this glimpse into Sony is any indication, the fact that anyone manages to make a decent movie in the studio system, and come out alive in the process, is a small miracle.

2/4/15 Update: Universal Pictures’ STEVE JOBS will be released on Friday, October 9, 2015.

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