Think back to a time long ago when you couldn’t order anything on your phone at 4am.
The year was 1994, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was a 9-to-5 business man with an insanely high dream connected to a giant computer network called the Internet.
“Bezos: The Beginning,” the Vision Films biopic that premiered Monday night at the University of Miami’s Cosford Cinema, explores what turned this unrealistic dream into the Internet’s biggest e-commerce site.
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The film opens with Bezos, played by UM alumnus Armando Gutierrez (“The Little Mermaid”), debating whether to leave his NYC hedge fund job with DE Shaw. (Note his boss; it’s fellow Miamian, “Profit” Marcus Lemonis).
With a loving nudge from his loyal co-worker/girlfriend MacKenzie Scott (Alex Mitchell alumnus of “American Murder Mystery”) and money from his stepfather, Mike Bezos (Emilio Estefan), the New Mexico native has truly taken on the daredevil. , the digital leap.
You see, Bezos started his online book market from his garage in Bellevue, Washington, with his first sale in July 1995.
Trivia: In those days, the Amazon wasn’t named after the world’s largest river, it was called Cadabra, half of which was said after a magic trick. It obviously didn’t stick because it reportedly sounded like a “monster.”
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Gutierrez, who also shared a producing credit and orders something from Amazon almost every day, said making a film based on the book Zero to Hero felt “natural” to him.
“It shows you in the early years … the fights with the opponents and the different people who didn’t want him to do it,” the 305 native said. “When I read the script, I was really excited to be any part of this origin story.”
Although Gutierrez hasn’t met Bezos, he thinks the king of the World Wide Web should provide motivation for us slugs in his hometown.
“For someone like that to go to school in Miami, it must burn you,” the 41-year-old said with a laugh.
Speaking about his exit, Gutierrez said he was “really excited” to play the divorced father of four, even shaving half of his head to channel different parts of his incredible journey to the billionaire.
“There’s a difference between him then and now,” the actor said. “He knew he wanted to start something, but he wasn’t sure what it was. He was still insecure, as if he was afraid to leave his job. Go back to Bezos in 1994 and tell him, “If you do this, you’ll be the richest man in history,” and he’d say, “Yes.” Sure, sure.’” (The 59-year-old is actually No. 3.)
When it came to choosing Bezos’ beloved stepfather, Miguel “Mike” Bezos, Emilio Estefan was the obvious choice. Not only did the famous music producer look like a real person, but the two Cuban natives knew each other.
“He was a perfect fit,” Gutierrez said.
Estefan, who has had cameo roles in local films such as Marley and Me, Rock of Ages and The Specialist, agreed.
“People thought [the Amazon idea] he was crazy, but he had vision and his father loved him dearly,” said the Miami Sound Machine legend, who arrived with his superstar wife Gloria. “It’s a great immigrant story. This is America. People take it for granted, but it’s [movie] sends a message: In America, all dreams can come true. We live in the best country in the world.”
“Bezos: The Startup” is now playing on streaming services, including (yes) Amazon.