Alex Gibney's Critical 'Steve Jobs' Doc Debuts High on iTunes Chart

Courtesy of SXSW
'Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine'

"We have a good relationship with iTunes, but for whatever reason, they didn't promote the film at all," said Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles.

In a fitting twist of fate — or irony —  Alex Gibney's Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine has debuted high on the chart of movies available to rent or buy on Apple's iTunes.

Gibney's latest film offers a highly critical view of the late Steve Jobs, the iconic founder of Apple and subject of Universal's upcoming feature, Steve Jobs.

Magnolia Pictures opened Man in the Machine in 70 theaters over Labor Day weekend. The doc, a CNN Films production, grossed $182,664, a respectable number considering the film is available digitally. Not surprisingly, it did best in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

More impressively, the documentary debuted at No. 9 on iTunes movies, where numerous new titles are available, and ranks No. 1 on a separate iTunes independent chart, ahead of indie titles including Before We Go, Chris Evans' feature directorial debut.

"We have a good relationship with iTunes, but for whatever reason, they didn't promote the film at all, so the number is even more impressive," said Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles, adding that iTunes also didn't promote Jobs, the indie Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher.

Magnolia, a veteran of dual releases, won't get cable and VOD numbers for several days. Insiders estimate that total VOD earnings to date, including iTunes, are in the mid-$600,000 range.

"It hung in there very well theatrically and on VOD for a movie with a specialized subject matter and devoted following," Bowles said. "Often, these films do huge business on Friday, then drift off. That profoundly didn't happen in this case. On VOD, Sunday was bigger than Saturday."

The fact that Man in the Machine debuted just as Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender, screened at the Telluride Film Festival wasn't a coincidence. Bowles said Boyle's film, which opens in theaters Oct. 9, will fuel additional interest in Gibney's doc. "People," says Bowles, "will want to come back and see the real version."