Steve Jobs Is About to Be Punk'd by a Butler

For me, Jobs, which opens in 2,000 theaters nationwide next weekend, is as Rule Breaking an endeavor as the film's subject: the late Steve Jobs' role in the founding, rise, fall, and resurgence of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) .

Ashton Kutcher as the late Steve Jobs. Photo credit: Open Road Films.

Take the biopic's U.S. distributor, Open Road Films. Anything but a normal studio, Open Road is the result of a 2011 team-up of AMC Theaters and Regal Entertainment (NYSE: RGC  ) . By contrast, Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) marketed and distributed The Social Network, a similar biopic of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg that earned $224 million worldwide on a $40 million production budget. Oh, and eight Oscar nominations and three wins.

Open Road has neither the marketing muscle nor the brand power to push Jobs to a wide release. Yet Jobs might have paid off for AMC and Regal -- and the film's producers -- if audiences and critics were interested in seeing it.

Turns out they aren't.

According to Google's Trends data, Jobs trails The Butler, a historical drama from The Weinstein Company with a high-profile cast. Not all that surprising when you look at last year's Best Picture contenders.

Jobs isn't likely to make this year's list. According to movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, only 43% of critics who have screened the film like it. Investors should nevertheless take note. That there's a film at all speaks to how transcendent the Apple story has become.

Actually, there's more than one. Writer Aaron Sorkin is behind a separate project that's based on Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of Steve Jobs. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who's already panned Jobs the film, is consulting on the project.

Josh Gad plays Woz in Jobs. Sources: YouTube, Open Road Films.

Expect Sorkin's take to be darker than Jobs, and possibly reflective of today's Apple -- the one Jobs left behind. A company that's aggressively pursuing the post-PC opportunity even as competitors work to loosen its grip on the smart-device market.

That Apple has underperformed over the past year. So far, Jobs appears as if it'll do the same in the year to come. Do you agree? Leave a comment to let us know what you think of the film, the stock, and the budding tech war between Apple and its peers.

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