One of BlackBerry’s founders is so reclusive that the trailer for the new film sparked a YouTube review and a series of rewrites that changed the final film.

Most everyone knows that Steve Jobs’ bizarre vision, relentless drive and technological wizardry hatched the iPhone, a breakthrough that continues to reshape culture 16 years after the late Apple co-founder introduced the iPhone. device in the world.

But when Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in 2007, another smartphone was the go-to gadget. It was the BlackBerry, a device so addictive it became known as the “CrackBerry” among tech nerds and power brokers bent on a tiny keyboard that worked best with both thumbs clicked.

Today, the BlackBerry is “that phone people had before they bought an iPhone”, a relic so irrelevant that the Canadian company that made it is now valued at $3 billion – down from $85 billion. dollars to its 2008 peak, when it still controlled almost half of the market. smartphone market.

But his legacy deserves to be remembered – and audiences will have a chance to learn more about his origins in the new film, ‘BlackBerry’. It’s the latest movie or TV series to delve into tech’s penchant for groundbreaking innovation, blind ambition, ego clashes, and power struggles that morph into tales of morality.

This formula has already spawned two Oscar-nominated films written by Aaron Sorkin, 2010’s “The Social Network” delving into the founding of Facebook and 2015’s “Steve Jobs” dissecting the Silicon Valley icon. Then came the wave of TV series last year examining the scandals enveloping WeWork (“WeCrashed”), Uber (“Super Pumped”) and disgraced Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes (“The Dropout”), which has earned Amanda Seyfried an Emmy for her turn in the lead role.

Unlike any of those biopics, “BlackBerry” is told as a dark comedy revolving around two lovable but clumsy nerds, Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin, who can’t seem to execute their plan to create a “computer in a phone.” until they bring in a tough and rude nosed businessman, Jim Balsillie.

Although “BlackBerry” is based on a meticulously researched book titled “The Lost Signal,” director and co-star Matt Johnson admitted to taking more liberties in the film during an interview with The Associated Press. Among other changes, Johnson cited changing some timelines, shaping the culture of the company through his vision for the 1990s and infusing key characters with “our own personalities and ideas”.

“But our lawyers wouldn’t let us put anything in the movie that was an outright fabrication,” Johnson pointed out.

Johnson had to do a lot of guesswork in his role as the enigmatic Fregin, who sold all his shares in BlackBerry’s holding company – then known as Research In Motion, RIM – around the same time Apple exited the first iPhone and kept a low profile. Since.

“Doug is a real cipher, he’s never done a taped interview,” Johnson said, leading him to portray Fregin as “kind of a mascot that binds the culture of the office.”

Ironically, Johnson got much of his idea for how to portray Fregin from one of RIM’s early employees, Matthias Wandel, who posted a YouTube video criticizing the inaccuracies he saw in the trailer for “BlackBerry”. Before that, Wandel spoke to Johnson at length about RIM’s history and even provided diaries he kept during development of the BlackBerry.

“I think when he sees the movie, he’ll be quite charmed by the amount of his original notes in the movie,” Johnson said of Wandel. “It’s so funny that he released this video (because) a lot of my character is based on him. I stole everything from that guy. I owe him so much.

Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM with Lazaridis, emerges as the film’s most intriguing character. Actor Glenn Howerton (best known for his role in the television series “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) portrays Balsillie in a way that features him as both the story’s main antagonist and the throwing protagonist. F-bombs in tyrannical tantrums at the same time. he makes shrewd moves that have made the BlackBerry a cultural sensation.

“I always felt like he was a guy who felt oddly a bit outside of what people would consider some kind of tech or business titan,” Howerton said of Basillie during from an interview with AP. “I played him as someone who had something to prove at almost any time, that he could play with the big boys.”

Balsillie eventually found himself embroiled in legal issues related to improper changes in stock option pricing – a tactic known as “backdating” which also ensnared the former general counsel and former CFO of Apple in 2007 for their handling of compensation packages awarded to jobs. Balsillie and Lazaridis left RIM in 2012.

Now that BlackBerry has faded from public consciousness, Balsillie seems to welcome the new film’s renewed attention even though he quibbled with certain aspects of his character during a recent interview with The Canadian Press.

Unlike Lazaridis and Fregin, Balsillie attended a recent screening of the film in Toronto and even walked the red carpet with Johnson and Howerton.

“In many ways (Jim) was the hero, he was the character who changed for the better (in the movie),” Johnson said. “The public was right with him. It was almost a psychedelic experience to be in the theater watching the movie with Jim, Jim being the person laughing the hardest.

Balsillie, who is mocked in one of the film’s scenes for never having seen ‘Star Wars’, told Howerton that he enjoyed watching ‘BlackBerry’ so much that it was the first film he had seen two times in his life.

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