'Atlas': Audiences apparently shrugged, too
So, the "first installment" of what promised to be a trilogy based on Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" is sinking like a stone at the box office. And the guy that paid the bills may be about to do his own little version of going Galt as a result:
Twelve days after opening "Atlas Shrugged: Part 1," the producer of the Ayn Rand adaptation said Tuesday that he is reconsidering his plans to make Parts 2 and 3 because of scathing reviews and flagging box office returns for the film.
"Critics, you won," said John Aglialoro, the businessman who spent 18 years and more than $20 million of his own money to make, distribute and market "Atlas Shrugged: Part 1," which covers the first third of Rand's dystopian novel. "I'm having deep second thoughts on why I should do Part 2."
Aglialoro's intimation of some sort of critical conspiracy glosses over a couple of unflattering details about the film's box office performance. His film is, in short, the mother of all tank jobs, which lost nearly half of its box office from week one to week two, despite actually adding 166 screens in the second week. Its per-screen average was by far the lowest of the second-week releases in the top 25 films, and has sunk to an abysmal $200 or so per day as of earlier this week (down from over $2000 on its opening weekend).
The film's anemic performance is despite the fact that right-wing political elements played a role in marketing the film, and the film was even adorably opened to the public on April 15th, presumably to take advantage of American anti-tax fervor.
Critics, virtually all of whom also wrote of the film's shortcomings in its first weekend, were more than a little unkind, to be sure. But for the film to tank that badly from week one to week two, something other than a critical conspiracy theory had to be at work, as well.
Aside from Aglialoro's entertaining conspiracy theory, two other reasons for the failure of "Atlas Shrugged" appear considerably more likely. Either (a) the community of people intrigued by libertarian fantasy is quite a bit smaller than Aglialoro anticipated or (b) the word-of-mouth was nonexistent because the film sucked every bit as much as the critics said it did.
Libertarians love to pontificate on the beauty of the market to determine winners and losers. At this point, it is safe to label this film as an unequivlocal loser.
Indeed, the marketplace has spoken. Perhaps Aglialoro, if he were true to the movement's message, should step up and say so.