When writing about movies, I will sometimes use the words “genius” and “brilliant” to note a particularly standout acting performance, script writer or director. The use of those same two words to describe Steve Jobs seems almost comical. He truly was a GENIUS and a BRILLIANT man. He was transcendent for our time. He has been labeled a modern-day Thomas Edison, and such a claim doesn’t even raise an eyebrow.
Mr. Jobs’ legacy at Apple is well documented and widely known. The iPhone is a staple of everyday life and Mac users go way beyond brand-loyal. But what of his impact on movies? Are you aware? In typical fashion, Jobs never really discussed his impact on Pixar. The studio began as a division of LucasFilm, the production arm of George Lucas’ movie world. In 1986 Jobs acquired Pixar and quietly began changing the way movies get made. His time away from Apple allowed him to assemble an amazingly talented team and work diligently to push the envelope on technological capability.
In 1995, after much success with experimental short films, Pixar released its first full length feature. Perhaps you have heard of it … Toy Story. The story of Woody and Buzz was a hit with kids and adults and went on to gross $360 million. And that was just the beginning. Pixar continued to produce top quality, highly creative, and incredibly entertaining films that were a visual feast. In 2001, a new Academy Awards category was created … Best Animated Feature. Since then, Pixar has taken home the Oscar in this category SIX times and their 12 features have taken in over $7 billion worldwide!
In 2006 Jobs sold Pixar to Disney for $7.4 billion and he became the largest single shareholder for Disney. As he re-immersed himself in Apple, his influence on Pixar was lessened, but his impact was clear and lasting. John Lasseter, the famous Pixar producer, writer and director stated that the single most impactful directive that Jobs left at Pixar was “Make it Great”. Whether phones, portable music, computers or movies … Steve Jobs strove for greatness and showed us the true meaning of Genius and Brilliant.