Forget Apple's iMovie. What about actual movies about Apple? Making a film about a computer company sounds boring. And it would be if we were talking about Dell: The Movie. Updated with 15 new Apple movie ideas... [September 5, 2013].
Apple's a different cinematic prospect altogether. It’s cool, it’s staffed entirely by drug-taking hippies, and it’s based not a million miles from the Hollywood Hills (304.69 miles to be exact). See also: Apple A-Z: Everything you need to know about Apple.
But take co-founder Steve Jobs out of the picture and you've got no picture. The LaserWriter has scant screen appeal. The Mac Portable isn’t green enough to rival The Incredible Hulk. That's why all the movies about Apple are really just biopics of Jobs.
Other Apple CEOs wouldn’t warrant opening the box office. Technically these would all be disaster movies. ‘Spindler’s List’ might sell a few tickets around German business school campuses and insomnia centres. ‘John Sculley, Knowledge Navigator’ admittedly has slight sci-fi potential. Woody Allen in ‘Gil Amelio and the Temple of Doom’ I would go and see, but I’d be alone with my popcorn.
There have been documentaries aplenty that look at the history of Apple – most memorably 'Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires', a three-hour PBS doco made in 1996, just as Apple was facing its darkest hour. It’s full of fascinating interviews with the likes of Jobs, Woz, Bill Atkinson, Andy Hertfeld from Apple, plus Microsoft’s Gates, Allen and Ballmer.
But that's not a proper movie. And nor, really, was 1999's 'Pirates of Silicon Valley', which had all the hallmarks of a made-for-TV, straight-to-video feature film. It focuses on the rivalry between Steve Jobs and Microsoft's Bill Gates. ER's Noah Wyle played Jobs, with Gates portrayed by The Breakfast Club's Anthony Michael Hall – a Hollywood character nerd if there ever was. Despite its TV movie qualities 'Pirates' is a lot of fun for Apple fanboys with nothing else to do on a Friday night but polish their antique Mac Plus and catalogue their Apple badge collection.
More movie-like is this summer’s 'Jobs'. Directed by Joshua Michael Stern it looks at the period of Apple history from the mid 1970s to the point where Jobs returns it from the brink of disaster. See: Jobs movie UK release date and Jobs movie reviews.
It starts with Steve Jobs, played by heartthrob Ashton Kutcher, dropping out of college and going on to found Apple Computer with super-geek Steve Wozniak, played by Josh Gad. Kutcher might be a pin-up boy for teenage girls but he'd never reach the heights of sweat-inducing passion that Jobs himself aroused in the average Apple fanboy.
Unlike Mr Jobs himself ‘Jobs’ doesn’t look like a big money earner. It will certainly make more than Steve received from his basic Apple salary ($1/year), but its opening weekend made a mere $6.7m – Apple makes that sort of change in monthly sales of Lightning cables. That said, as ‘Jobs’ cost a mere $12m to make it’s at least likely to make its money back, unlike the G4 Cube or Apple Pippin.
There’s another Apple movie in the works, too – one that actually has critics and Apple fans both quite excited. Not because it features Daniel Day Lewis as Steve Jobs or Meryl Streep as Woz, but because it will be written by The West Wing and Social Network's famed wordsmith Aaron Sorkin, and based on Walter Isaacson’s 2011 authorised biography. Sorkin hasn't made it easy for himself or his audience, though. The Sorkin Jobs movie will consist of just three scenes: each before the launch of a major product: 1984's Mac, 1985's NeXT and 2001's iPod. If that means no screaming, fist-banging, purple-faced, LSD-laced outbursts from Jobs then it might be time to go back to that old VHS of 'Pirates'.
For me the most interesting film (‘The Great Escape’, ‘Back to the Future’, ‘Die Hard’?) would look at how Steve Jobs came back from nothing to dominate not just the tech industry but the music and movie businesses, and propelled Apple to become the world’s most valuable company.
Here’s some other Apple movies – produced by Twentieth Century Foxconn – I’d pay to watch. Feel free to add your own in the Comments section.
‘The Mac Clone Wars’ would be full of cinematic opportunity and more cursing than a Tarantino flick.
‘The Newton Boys’, a tale of two men and their MessagePads trying desperately to communicate via handwriting recognition.
‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’ – a portrait of the PowerBook range.
Jony Ive’s ‘Superman: Man of Aluminum’
‘eMac: The Extra Terrestrial’ – a bizarre-looking Mac is sheltered by children.
‘Low Fidelity’, the story of the iPod.
‘The (One More) Thing’ – Apple releases product horror during keynote.
‘It’s a Wonderful iLife’ – Windows user discovers wonders of Mac software.
‘The Magnificent System 7’ – rides Windows out of town.
‘Heaven’s Gates’ – Recently deceased Bill Gates tries to force God out of business.
‘Jurassic PARC’ – disgruntled Xerox boffin recreates Xerox Star workstation.
Microsoft monopoly courtroom drama ‘Good Bill Hunting’.
‘Rokr Star’ – Motorola’s iTunes phone is a surprise hit with the kids.
‘Mona Lisa’ – Steve Jobs' sister Mona adopts his first child.
‘The NeXTocist’ – Apple execs try to rid Silicon Valley of the demon Steve Jobs.
‘Heat: the Power Mac G5 Story’
‘Planet of the Apps’ – human conversation and intimacy subjugated by addictive software.
Steve Jobs’ ‘V For Vendetta’.
‘Raiders of the Lost Quark’ – hero with whip hunts once mighty DTP program to foil Adobe.
‘The Wizard of Woz’ – this time the guy behind the curtain is actually pretty cool.
‘Citizen Kare’ – life and legacy of Apple icon tycoon Susan Kare.
‘OS X-Men Origins’ – the mutant offspring of NeXTStep topple Amelio's Copland project.
‘Bondi Blue Velvet’ – weird, cult computer goes mainstream.
‘The Silence of the Fans’ – Jony Ive takes on the Mac Pro's quad-core processors.
‘Rear Windows’ – man spots neighnour forcing his wife to use Windows Vista.
‘With Mail & I’ – two out-of-work actors drunkenly converse via email.
‘Cinema Display Paradiso’ – magical take of a small boy who discovers a very large monitor.
‘Dirty Larry’ – Oracle chief Larry Ellison hunts down anti-Jobs Apple Board members.
The Red Balloon Help’ – a young boy tries to work out how to use Mac System 7.
‘Wintel No One’ – French man slowly realises that Windows PCs still use Intel chips.
‘Mad Umax’ – in a fantasy future Mac clones still exist but at a terrible cost to mankind.
‘The Ghost LaserWriter’ – Ewan McGregor discovers shocking secrets in the printer out-tray.
‘300 GHz’ – army of IBM processor engineers defeat Motorola hordes.
‘MacPaint Your Wagon’ – Clint Eastwood strikes gold with fun new black-&-white colouring program.
‘iPhone Booth’ – Colin Farrell literally can't put down his new iPhone 5S.
’Genius Barfly’ – drunk Mickey Rourke finds solace with the guys from the Apple Store.
’Fanny by Gassée’ – Jean-Louis Gassée returns home to find Steve Jobs has murdered his BeOS multimedia operating system.
'Be-witched' – Sequel in which Amelio chmages his mind after Gassée uses French blagic magic.
‘The QuickTime Machine’ – sci-fi adventure that takes place on a very small pop-up window.
’The Cruel PC’ – brave Mac navy avoids evil Windows torpedoes.
’Reality Distortion Field of Dreams’ – Steve Jobs persuades locals that they'll enjoy shopping again as long as the tables are made of Italian glass.
‘Schiller’s Crossing’ – Steve Jobs deputy Phil Schiller sees off rival product manager Frank Casanova.
‘Hercule Perot’ – strange Belgian detective invests in failed Steve Jobs side project.
‘The QuickTake and the Dead’ – pro photographers duel to see who can take the best picture using just an Apple QuickTake camera. No one wins.
‘Performa(nce)’ – gangster hides out in house with only an old consumer Mac for company.
‘TrueType Romance’ – couple on the run from PostScript police.
‘Crouching Tiger’ – confusing martial arts flick about Mac users still swearing by Mac OS X 10.4.
‘Quadra-phenia’ – tragic musical tale of street kids who mod old Mac tower systems.
‘Patent Place’ – secret lives and loves of intellectual copyright lawyers.
‘Thunderbolt and Lightning Foot’ – old crime partners try to locate hidden 30-pin iPad cable.
‘Poison Ive’ – twisted tale of frienship within the top-secret Apple design labs.
‘Austin PowerBook’ – ludicrous parody of what a Power Computing laptop really would have looked like.
‘The Hertzfeld Locker’ – quiet Mac boffin saves Cupertino from imminent explosion.
’The G3 Musketeers’ – IBM and Motorola disprove "All for One" slogan.
‘Copland’ – Sly Stallone sees off bad cops as they try to release never-ready next-generation Mac operating system.
’The Man Who Dell To Earth’ – David Bowie plays Michael Dell in his weirdest movie role yet.
‘Groundhog Chiat\Day’ – advertising firm keeps making the same anti-Intel advert over and over again.
‘CyberDogs of War’ – mercenaries called in to rescue captured Apple internet suite of applications.
‘Sarah’s Command Key’ – young Jewish girl hides her Mac from persecuters by using Windows keyboard.
‘Das Boot Camp’ – tense, underwater military story of virtualization under enormous pressure.
‘Betty Blueberry’ – sexy tale of short-lived G3 iMac model.
‘Man on FireWire’ – Still protesting that it's faster than USB 3.0 a brave camcorder user attempts impossible file transfer.
’War of the eWorlds’ – aliens spring from the earth plotting to take over AOL hegemony.
‘The Plague Dogcows’ – strange monochrome creature escapes from Cupertino research laboratory.
‘Goodbye Mr CHRPs’ – charming tales of an old processor engineer who still teaches jolly children about the Common Hardware Reference Platform.
’The SCSI Terminator’ – It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever; up to a limit of 16 devices.
‘All That Jaz Drive’ – adaptation of Broadway musical about a now-forgotten optical-disc storage disk.
‘The Mountain Lion King’ – tale of triumph as Mac OS X versions battle for the crown.
‘The Wrenched Connection’ – Jony Ive invents MagSafe power connector after one too many trips back to the cable cupboard.
‘Samsung Zelig’ – Korean company miraculously changes its appearance every time Apple announces a new product.
'Flash Dance' – computer user overjoyed as he doesn't have to update Flash on his computer for a whole day.
'Mac Draft' – firemen struggle to extinguish a flaming PowerBook 5300.
'Close Encounters of the Word Kind' – MacWrite users drawn to powerful mega program by strange series of alert sounds.
'Store Wars' – Apple sales staff rebel against evil army of Genius Bar stormtroopers.
Lost in Translation' – Disaster travel flick as Apple merges its Maps app with Siri.
'QWERTY Dancing' – Apple Store shopper falls for staffer showing off new ergonomic Apple keyboard
'Hancock' – Apple Chief Technology Officer Ellen Hancock's farcical love affair with Sun Solaris falls flat when Steve Jobs calls here a "bozo'.
'Magic Mike' – Mike Markkula strips his way back onto the Apple Board.
'Sherlock Homes' – Mystery surrounds disappearance of Apple search program.
'The Hunger Games' – Family can't afford food after child's iPhone game in-app purchases.
'The Phil Avie i's' – Horror movie where Phil Schiller and Avie Tevanian ruin every i-product launch during Jobs keynotes.
'Nein to Five' – Michael Spindler rejects Woz's proposed Apple V project.
'Up in the Air' – George Clooney super slim-sizes Apple staff numbers.
'Bugsy' - Cupertino gangster admits role in Apple Maps debacle.
'Sliding Moores' – Motorola and IBM dramatically disprove Intel law of always improving processor speeds.
'Tim Cook, The Wife and Her Lover' – Filthy Peter Greenaway art movie spins whole new light on Apple CEO's private life.
'The Social Not Work' – Bio pic of Apple's Ping.
'Mary Pippins' – Nanny makes fatal mistake in choice of games consoles.
'The iOS 6th Sense' – "I see dead skeuomorphisms"
'We Need to Talk about Kevin' – Jony Ive knocks on Tim Cook's door when new Apple VP of Technology Kevin Lynch suggests allowing Flash on to iOS.
'Crash' – Ex-Adobe man Lynch gets his way with inevitable consequences.
And obviously both volumes of ‘Kill Bill’.