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BlackBerry gets the movie treatment in true story of iconic phone maker

Jay Baruchel as Research in Motion boss Mike Lazaridis in a still from upcoming movie BlackBerry  (Elevation Pictures)
Jay Baruchel as Research in Motion boss Mike Lazaridis in a still from upcoming movie BlackBerry (Elevation Pictures)

BlackBerry, the early 2000s phone with a distinct physical keyboard, stars in a new movie about the doomed business behind it.

The upcoming comedy film charts the rise and fall of the eponymous Canadian firm that struck gold with its super-secure device. Often pictured in the hands of celebrities and politicians, from Paris Hilton to Barack Obama, the BlackBerry was emblematic of a particular time at the start of the millennium.

It was also a typist’s dream thanks to its QWERTY keypad and the satisfying clicks it produced. Its cult fanbase dubbed it “CrackBerry” due to its addictive nature.

Just as BlackBerry looked set to dominate the smartphone industry for the foreseeable future, Apple released the touchscreen iPhone and Google unveiled Android. The rest, as they say, is history.

BlackBerry took the world by storm in the noughties before being dethroned by the iPhone
BlackBerry took the world by storm in the noughties before being dethroned by the iPhone

The new movie BlackBerry will be released in the UK by Paramount, which scooped the rights to it at the Berlin Film Festival where it had its premiere. More mockumentary than true life drama, the film tells the whirlwind story of the people who helped to create and market the device — back when people would ask for your BlackBerry pin so they could message you.

The phone made billionaires of Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, heads of Canadian firm Research in Motion, before fizzling out amid stiff competition from its touchscreen rivals. A late-stage switch to Android in 2018 did little to reverse its fortunes. As a character in the film puts it, eventually BlackBerry became “that phone that people had before they bought an iPhone”.

BlackBerry will be released in the US on June 2 (Elevation Pictures)
BlackBerry will be released in the US on June 2 (Elevation Pictures)

The movie is loosely based on the 2015 non-fiction book Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, written by journalists Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff.

Critics have hailed the film as a garrulous, tech-world satire, comparing it to hit TV show Silicon Valley and the whip-smart work of Aaron Sorkin, the Oscar-winning writer of The Social Network. The film currently has a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes after 11 reviews. BlackBerry stars Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, Cary Elwes and Saul Rubinek.

There’s currently no word on whether it will end up on the big screen or head direct to streaming on Paramount+. The film’s US distributor IFC Films plans to release it at cinemas on June 2.

Wherever it lands, it could be the next must-watch for fans of biting boardroom comedies such as Succession.