Sony Pictures’ ongoing, embarrassing email leak has revealed a major rift in Hollywood over a long-rumored project, the Steve Jobs biopic David Fincher was meant to direct from a script by Aaron Sorkin. Gawker’s Defamer subdomain has published a series of messages, largely between Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal and superproducer Scott Rudin, that shows just how vexed the process was.
The as-yet-unmade Steve Jobs movie, based on former TIME managing editor Walter Isaacson’s Jobs biography, appears to have been cast into doubt early this year, with actress Angelina Jolie having protested Fincher’s plan to make a Jobs film instead of her planned biopic of Cleopatra (a film in which, she’s said publicly, she plans to make her final onscreen appearance). After some back-and-forth between the two that saw the conversation moving from the Jobs film to the Cleopatra one, Rudin wrote Pascal: “I’m not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat who thought nothing of shoving this off her plate for eighteen months so she could go direct a movie. I have no desire to be making a movie with her, or anybody, that she runs and that we don’t.” Rudin called Jolie “a camp event and a celebrity and that’s all.” He also used the emails to mock young superproducer Megan Ellison as “this bipolar 28 year old lunatic,” making it clear that he was uncomfortable working on a project over which he lacked control.
Ellison, at least, has taken the leak in stride, tweeting a screenshot of Rudin’s description and noting “I always thought of myself more as eccentric.” Jolie, Rudin, and Pascal have yet to comment publicly on the subject, and while Sony has confirmed the fact of the hack, they have not commented on specific leaked documents.
The scale of this hack has no precedent. Sony films, including Annie and Still Alice, have appeared on file-sharing sites. Meanwhile, Sony Pictures has taken down its communications systems, as information drawn from specific emails has been trickling out bit by bit as journalists read through the data.
More than anything, the Sony emails indicate to readers just how labored-over tentpole movies are, long before anyone has the opportunity to see them. Reading emails like the lengthy one a Sony marketing boss sends Pascal about the Jobs script (citing the “marketing liabilities” of the script while praising it) or the Sony team’s back-and-forth emails about potential star Michael Fassbender (about whose anatomy they make crude jokes while weighing if he’s a big enough star to play Jobs), one marvels that a movie ever ends up getting made at all. None of that seems to have killed the movie, though. Instead, the linchpin of the emails is how susceptible to bickering Pascal and Rudin appear to have been over the tangential issue of Jolie’s aspiration to play Cleopatra. The Steve Jobs film is now at Universal.