BlackBerry Movie: Canadian film documents the rise and fall of Research in Motion

The story of Canada’s tarnished pocket gem, the BlackBerry, is headed to the movies.

Producers say filming has wrapped up in a feature-length production chronicling the rise and fall of the device, once affectionately known as CrackBerry among its most obsessed users.

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Blackberry focuses on the masterminds behind Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), the Waterloo, Ontario-based technology company responsible for creating what was once the world’s most popular smartphone brand, years before the Apple’s iPhone hit the market.

A representative for Canadian distributor Elevation Pictures says the film will co-star Glenn Howerton, a cast member from It’s always sunny in Phillyas co-CEO Jim Balsillie, while Ottawa-born Jay Baruchel, known for comedy Pregnantwill play his business partner and co-founder of the company, Mike Lazaridis.

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Blackberry is adapted from the non-fiction book Losing the signal: the spectacular rise and fall of BlackBerrywritten by Globe and Mail reporters Sean Silcoff and Jacquie McNish.

The film was largely shot in the Hamilton area by director Matt Johnson, whose previous work includes the dirty ones, Operation Avalanche and television docu-comedy Nirvanna the band the show.

Other cast members include Cary Elwes from Mission: Impossible – Time OutSaul Rubinek from True Romance and Michael Ironside from full recovery.

RIM was founded in 1984 by Lazaridis and Doug Fregin, two business partners who had previously worked together on a failed LED sign business. After a decade of dabbling in various other technology projects, they turned their attention to the two-way communications systems that would become the foundation of the BlackBerry device.


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Balsillie, a Harvard graduate, remortgaged his house at age 33 to invest $250,000 in the idea. In the mid-1990s, the company introduced its first portable pager, on the way to making the device that cemented its reputation.

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For years, BlackBerry was the dominant smartphone, seen in the hands of everyone from celebrities to average citizens. The brand enjoyed that status until the iPhone debuted in 2007. A year later, RIM released a combination keyboard and touchscreen device in what turned out to be the beginning of its decline in the consumer market.

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Behind the scenes, there were multiple network outages and unrest among the company’s board of directors over where the BlackBerry brand should go next.

At its peak, RIM was the most valuable company in Canada, with a market value that surpassed even the largest banks in the country.

Blackberry is financed by XYZ Films, which intends to sell the film to global distributors at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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