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'Atlas Shrugged' producer: 'Critics, you won.' He's going 'on strike.'

April 26, 2011 |  5:16 pm

EXCLUSIVE: 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."

"Atlas Shrugged" was the top-grossing limited release in its opening weekend, generating $1.7 million on 299 screens and earning a respectable $5,640 per screen. But the the box office dropped off 47% in the film's second week in release even as "Atlas Shrugged" expanded to 425 screens, and the movie seemed to hold little appeal for audiences beyond the core group of Rand fans to whom it was marketed.

Aglialoro attributed the box office drop-off to "Atlas Shrugged's" poor reviews. Only one major critic -- Kyle Smith of the New York Post -- gave "Atlas" a mixed-to-positive review, calling the film "more compelling than the average mass-produced studio item." The movie has a dismal 7% fresh rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes thanks to critics like the Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips, who said "Atlas" is "crushingly ordinary in every way." Roger Ebert called the film "the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault," while Rolling Stone's Peter Travers said the movie "sits there flapping on screen like a bludgeoned seal."

"The New York Times gave us the most hateful review of all," said Aglialoro, who also has a writing credit on the movie. "They didn’t cover it."

The novel, a sacred text among many conservatives for Rand's passionate defense of capitalism, takes place at an unspecified future time in which the U.S. is mired in a deep depression and a mysterious phenomenon is causing the nation's leading industrialists to disappear or "strike."

Aglialoro's 97-minute adaptation is directed by first-timer Paul Johansson and stars little-known TV actors Taylor Schilling (as railroad executive Dagny Taggart) and Grant Bowler (as steel magnate Hank Rearden).

Though the film has made only $3.1 million so far, Aglialoro said he believes he'll recoup his investment after TV, DVD and other ancillary rights are sold. But he is backing off an earlier strategy to expand "Atlas" to 1,000 screens and reconsidering his plans to start production on a second film this fall.

"Why should I put up all of that money if the critics are coming in like lemmings?" Aglialoro said. "I’ll make my money back and I'll make a profit, but do I wanna go and do two? Maybe I just wanna see my grandkids and go on strike."

Aglialoro, who is chief executive of the exercise equipment manufacturer Cybex, said he is not completely finished with Hollywood, however. An avid poker player who won the U.S. Poker Championship in 2004, he has a dramatic script called "Poker Room" in development. "Maybe the critics will be kinder to that one," he said.


Atlas Shrugged finally comes to the screen, albeit in chunks

-- Rebecca Keegan


Photo: Taylor Schilling plays heroine Dagny Taggart in "Atlas Shrugged Part 1." Credit: Rocky Mountain Pictures


Comments () | Archives (223)

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Hilarious irony that this Ayn Rand worshiper made millions sitting on his duff at a poker table; then he blames the critics for why the movie bombed. Clearly, Ayn Rand's philosophy went right over the head of Mr. Aglialoro.

Hahaha!~ Go on strike, go "galt"! No one cares. Wahhh!

The man makes gym equipment.
For him to automatically assume that this qualified him to produce a film was like Joe Gold assuming he was qualified to write a symphony.

Maybe the critics would be kinder to you if you made a better movie.

This movie bombed because it was associated with the Tea Party, another doomed failure to capture a doomsday approach to the future. However, Ann Ryand was pro-choice, an independent thinker and the Republicans would have burned her at the stake. Parts 2 and 3 belong in the sci-fi section, hopefully, not to resurface until way after the next election!

What a shame. I loved the movie and thought it came very close to the book, which I also adored, having read it several times.

I do hope he reconsiders and makes part 2 and part 3. Don't let the james taggart and Lillian Reardon type critics win!!!

Ayn Rand would have liked what she saw on the screen. Please keep up the good work.

He won't need to make parts 2 and 3... reality will do it for him.

C'mon. Do you really believe what's printed in the LA Times? This is what the ultra liberals at the paper WANT you to believe. Open your own eyes and make your own decisions.

I told you the guys running the distribution of this film are morons. They should have offered it up on-line as a download for 10 bucks or even distribute it via netflix. The big SCreen was not the right move.

Transformers II was soundly panned by the critics but its fan based made it a huge hit. I'm sure Aglialoro thought, " hey Rand is a million selling author I can make my money back on her millions and millions of fans". Too bad her fame is bought by her institution they have been buying her books and donating them for a tax break.

"Every year, 400,000 copies of Rand’s novels are offered free to Advanced Placement high school programs. They are paid for by the Ayn Rand Institute, whose director, Yaron Brook, said the mission was “to keep Rand alive.”


But according to ARI's website

In recent years, we have been pleased to see something of an “Ayn Rand
Renaissance”—as evidenced in part by the following:

* Sales of Ayn Rand’s books rose to more than 400,000 copies
annually—twenty years after her death."

I wanted to thank John Aglialoro for making this great movie! It was a very refreshing movie. It was great to see heroic characters who are unstoppable! This movie will live! Even 20 yrs from now people will buy this DVD and perhaps envy those who had the option to see it in theatres. Give yourself a treat! Watch this wonderful movie!

Many movies that get panned by critics make tons of money anyway, but those films are targeting a much wider demographic than the cult of Ayn Rand.

Great Book, Great Movie and an even better philosophy. I went to see it with a Liberal, when we walked out of the theater he just scrached his big fat ass and said "I didn't get it" He used to work for the Times.

John, you rushed a movie into a hurried production with a last-minute script, miniscule budget, TV-level talent, a first-time director, and a script that you - Mr Exercise Equipment - co-wrote in a month with a guy who makes zombie movies. Plus the marketing plan from Planet Amateur.

Maybe the critics called your movie bad, not because of some anti-Rand fetish or Big Liberal Press Conspiracy, but because it was just a bad movie. Your decisions as producer made it impossible for it to be any good.

Interesting how Atlas Shrugged--the book--was a best seller in spite of the critical reaction. And the critical reaction against it was far more vicious than that against the movie. Actually the reaction against the movie wasn't vicious at all. Most of it said that the movie didn't do the book justice. And that, dear Mr. Aglialoro, is why you failed. Don't be a baby and blame it on the critics.

Should've kept true to the source material instead of making it a future piece.

I sincerely hope Mr. Aglioloro reconsiders. Of course critics are going to give the movie bad reviews... it doesn't go along with their agenda. So a select group of people are ticked off because of your ideas. Sound familiar? Truth isn't always popular. As a young conservative (not knowing a whole lot about the book, although now I am going to read it), I was extremely impressed by this movie and will eagerly await the second and third parts of the trilogy.

Saw the movie yesterday and thought it was great. For once the achievers were not demeaned for succeeding! To succeed and to accomplish is good! Wanted to keep going right then for part II but we can wait until next April.

What was amazing - after the movie the group was talking about the government trying to stop the Boeing effort in So. Carolina - which just happened in the last few days - and the movie, made last summer, seemed to reference this same situation.

John, don't worry about the negative reviews - just consider the source.

""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 ""

Yeah, but that's not what he did. He was about to lose the rights, so at the last minute he threw together the movie. The script was literally written one week before they shot it, so he didn't spend 18 years and the movie deserves all the criticism.

If Aglialoro gives up, which I find hard to believe, then someone else - someone wiser, stronger, better - will buy the rights to produce Parts 2 and 3. Box office sales were excellent for such a low budget movie, even with all the bad reviews. If Aglialoro really understood Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and the current state of America, I do not see how it is possible he could have expected good reviews. This just comes with the territory.

Aglialoro should also care less about the film critics. Part 1 shows there are enough paying customers to pay for Parts 2 and 3. That is really all Aglialoro should care about. In fact, if I owned the rights, I would be thrilled to produce Parts 2 and 3 because I now know that I would not lose any money, but I would still have the opportunity to produce a movie that blasts the message of Atlas Shrugged across the silver screen - a message our country desperately needs to hear, especially our young. You only lose when you quit, and no one that knows anything about Ayn Rand would ever quit in the middle of such a grand battle of ideas. I would be thinking, like Ayn Rand, "The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.”

Join the fight for a better world and see Part 1 a second or even a third time, and invest your money in Parts 2 and 3. Obama dollars have lost us 11% last year alone, so invest in something that may actually change the world and make you money.

"In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst.” … “Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours." --Ayn Rand

I thought Atlas Shrugged Part 1 was OUTSTANDING.

It was definitely worth $10.

Go see it.

No I'm not Aglioero or whatever his name is.

To John Aglialoro. Thanks from many Rand readers for the fine effort. I know you are frustrated after all the time and investment in making the film. In the long run you will be rewarded just as Ayn Rand was after the book was given poor reviews.

Hey jack jackson:

"Great Book, Great Movie and an even better philosophy. I went to see it with a Liberal, when we walked out of the theater he just scrached his big fat ass and said "I didn't get it" He used to work for the Times. "

So was this guy a friend of yours, that you're talking about like this?

And I do mean "was."

Wait, so...the movie did poorly in the Free Market (tm), the producer is crying foul? What is he, some kind of commie? That's the way capitalism works, man: make a crappy product and nobody buys it.

If Ayn Rand were alive she'd probably "go Roarke" on this crappy adaptation of her novel. Like most of his ilk, Aglialoro blames others for his own failure.

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