Legend of Apple co-founder Jobs heads to big screen

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The life and times of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs will be immortalized on the big screen next week as the first of two planned biopics about the visionary computer guru lands in theaters.

Almost two years after Jobs lost his long battle with cancer, “Jobs,” starring Ashton Kutcher as the iconic computer industry titan, is to be released Friday.

The independent film opens ahead of a bigger-budget project on Jobs planned by Sony that is being put together with the support of Apple’s other co-founder Steve Wozniak.

“Jobs” was screened at the prestigious Sundance International Film Festival earlier this year where it received a lukewarm reception from critics.

The film charts Jobs’ early life, including his famous launch of Apple in a garage in 1976 through to his triumphant return to the company in 1996 after earlier being ousted from the company in a boardroom coup.

Directed by Joshua Michael Stern from a script by Matt Whiteley, “Jobs” paints a broadly favorable portrait of the man who gave the world such groundbreaking gadgets such as the iPod and iPad.

But it also touches on the more controversial chapters of his life, including his abrupt break up with his pregnant girlfriend and his later refusal to acknowledge paternity of the couple’s daughter.

During the annual MacWorld/iWorld conference in San Francisco in January, Kutcher acknowledged being intimidated by the task of playing Jobs.

“Playing a guy which everyone will have judgment of or criticism about was really, really scary,” the 35-year-old said.

Kutcher, an avowed geek who has also invested in a slew of technology start-ups, spent hours poring over old videos of Jobs in an effort to replicate the Apple chieftain’s mannerisms and voice.

He also got into character by adopting Jobs’ strict diet of eating and drinking only fruit and carrot juice -- a regimen that led to excruciating pain and a trip to hospital two days before filming was set to start.

Kutcher’s film has, however, been greeted coolly by Apple co-founder Wozniak, who has taken exception to certain scenes in the movie, including one scene in particular where Jobs outlines his grand vision for computers.

“Steve is lecturing me about where computers could go, when it was the other way around,” Wozniak told the Los Angeles Times.

“Steve never created a great computer. In that period, he had failure after failure after failure. He had an incredible vision, but he didn’t have the ability to execute on it,” he said.

“I would be surprised if the movie portrays the truth.”

Kutcher, meanwhile, defended “Jobs” from Wozniak’s criticisms in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“A couple things you have to understand. One, Steve Wozniak is being paid by another movie studio to help support their Steve Jobs film, so he’s gonna have an opinion that is connected to that, somewhat,” Kutcher said.

“Two, the biggest criticism that I’ve ultimately heard is that he wanted it to be represented -- his contribution to Apple -- fairly. And, in all fairness, the movie’s called ‘Jobs.’ And it’s about Steve Jobs and the legacy of Steve Jobs, and so I think it focuses more ... on what his contribution to Apple was.”

Sony and Wozniak’s movie is to be based on the Apple co-founder’s official biography penned by Walter Isaacson.

Heavyweight Hollywood screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network, has been entrusted with the adaptation.

Sorkin has already indicated that he plans to tell the story of Jobs in three phases tied to three of the inventor’s best known products. The director and the actor who will play Jobs have yet to be picked.

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