Is the BlackBerry movie based on a true story? Real inspiration behind BlackBerry film revealed

Starring Glenn Howerton and Jay Baruchel, the BlackBerry movie tells us how the world’s first smartphone was created
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The BlackBerry movie tells the story of how the world’s first smartphone was created, recalling its rise to fame and dramatic crash to obscurity. In the 2000s, everyone had a BlackBerry, from office workers to celebrities, it revolutionised the way that we communicated and the term “CrackBerry” was even coined to sum up our growing addiction to technology.

Written by Director Matt Johnson and Producer Matthew Miller, the BlackBerry movie is loosely adapted from the best-selling novel ‘Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of Blackberry’ by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff.

It features a star-studded cast complete with Glenn Howerton (Always Sunny in Philadelphia) playing shark businessman Jim Balsillie and Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder) and Matthew Johnson (Therapy Dogs) taking up the leads as BlackBerry creators Mike Lazaridus and Doug Fregin.

So, is the BlackBerry movie based on a true story and what is the real inspiration behind the latest biopic? Here’s everything you need to know.

Is the BlackBerry movie based on a true story?

The BlackBerry film is inspired by the true story of the creation of the world’s first smartphone. It was also loosely adapted from the novel ‘Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry’, by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff.

The BlackBerry movie tells the true story of the creation of the world’s first smartphone (Photo: IFC Films)The BlackBerry movie tells the true story of the creation of the world’s first smartphone (Photo: IFC Films)
The BlackBerry movie tells the true story of the creation of the world’s first smartphone (Photo: IFC Films)

Some parts of the movie have been elaborated, Jim Balsillie, who is played by Glenn Howerton told CTV News, “When I first saw it, I was confused for about five minutes.” He continued: “And then I thought, ‘OK, we’re being roasted here. This is a satire.” Balsillie added: “They’re taking an element of truth, who I am, and they’re playing with it. I’m aggressive. I’m competitive. I’m ambitious. I own that.”

Who created BlackBerry?

BlackBerry was created by the company Research in Motion which was founded by Canadian university students and childhood friends Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin. The pair developed the world’s first ever smartphone, the BlackBerry 5810 which launched in 2002.

Although initially targeted towards office workers, its stylish look and ability to communicate via text and email, made it a huge hit with businesspeople, the general public and celebrities alike. The brand became a household name, selling 50 million devices a year in its peak, helping it to gain the nickname “CrackBerry”.

Did Douglas Fregin really get forced out?

In the BlackBerry movie, Fregin is depicted as being ousted from the company after Lazaridis starts to take on a more serious role within the business. This drives a wedge between the two leading to a dramatic split between the two founders.

However, in real life the pair continued to have a good working relationship. Reported by Cosmopolitan, Fregin did exit the company in 2007 and sell all his company shares, which were believed to be an estimated eye-watering $2 billion.

What happened to the founders of BlackBerry?

Fregin left BlackBerry before its demise in 2007, selling his shares for a whopping sum of $2 billion, the former founder now has an estimated net worth of $1 billion according to Celebrity Net Worth.Lazaridis and Balsillie stayed on in the company until 2012, despite BlackBerry’s decline they left very wealthy.

Lazaridis joined forces again with Fregin and is currently the Founder and Managing Partner at Quantum Valley Investments and Founder at Institute for Quantum Computing according to CrunchBase, he also has an estimated net worth of $600 million.

Balsillie founded the School of International Affairs at Canada’s University of Waterloo, as well as setting up the Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI) think tank and serves as chair of the Canadian Council of Innovators. He has an estimated net worth of $800 million according to Celebrity Net Worth.

BlackBerry Movie (Photo: IFC Films)BlackBerry Movie (Photo: IFC Films)
BlackBerry Movie (Photo: IFC Films)

What happened to the BlackBerry phone?

The world’s first smartphone is officially obsolete. In January 2022, the operating system, software and services for BlackBerry phones were decommissioned. This means that text messages, Wi-Fi and even using data would no longer work. The last ever BlackBerry phone to be designed internally was the BlackBerry KeyOne in 2017.

Nowadays BlackBerry Limited still exists, although instead of offering smartphones the company provides software and services for cybersecurity.

When is the BlackBerry movie coming out in the UK?

The BlackBerry movie will be available to watch in UK cinemas from Friday 6 October.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.