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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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I read both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Much preferred The Fountainhead, but frankly I dont agree with Ayn Rand's politics. If capitalism worked so well we wouldn't be in the heap of sh*t we're in right now. Allowing big business to get bigger hasn't done anything to grow our economy or put the "little people" to work. (trickle down economics dont work)

Lets face it, putting out a movie on a book that has a small cult fan-base and expecting it to take the country by storm isn't good business.

Who is John Galt? Who cares.

Maybe he should follow Ayn Rands lead and see if he can get some of those Government Bennies that they claim are so evil!
Read the book and saw the movie, when held up to the close light of reality neither are very impressive!

I'll never be rich, I wasn't smart enough to be born to rich parents

The guy seems awfully whiny that the free market rejected his film. Isn't this simply an example of the free market the Rand worshiped?

Maybe if they loaded it up with gore, like that Mel Gibson Jesus movie, the Teabaggers would come out. They could even show it at Sunday School!

The review from actual viewers on Rotten Tomatoes is in the 80's, so don't put much stock in what the stuffy critics have to say (or not say, in the case of that rag NYT.)

bill s,

There is no such thing as a "teabagger" so, no, they wouldn't "come out."

Why would they show a movie about capitalism at Sunday School?

You seem like a rather confused individual.

To those that are convinced this will be a "sleeper", that will slowly gain money and notoriety:

Yes, Star Wars was a flop when it came.
But so was Battlefield Earth.

Sometimes a crappy movie is a crappy movie, even if you're cult believes it's ideas.

(and yes, in case you didn't catch it, I did compare the cult of Rand to the cult of Scientology. And yes, they're both based on science fiction and stupidity.)

How can one go on strike if one has been fired?

Next up: the sequel to Battlefield: Earth.

BTW, this happened when 'An American Carol' bombed. People came out of the woodwork to say that it was a vast left-wing conspiracy that kept this movie from making any money. And never mind that the Zucker brothers havent made a remotely fresh movie since 'Hot Shots'.

It's also worth remembering that one of the only positive reviews for 'An American Carol' said 'I didnt think it was a very good movie, it wasnt very funny, but there are so few right-wing movies, that I'm recommending it.' Really? It was a crappy movie, but Bill O'Reilly slaps around a composite of Michael Moore, so I'm recommending it? Yeah, THAT sounds like a responsible critic. BTW, didn't a composite of O'Reilly brutally murder a composite of Michael Moore in his novel 'Those Who Trespass'? Man, read a little bit of that. If he were writing a high school English paper, he would've been sent to the counselor for observation.

"Lets face it, putting out a movie on a book that has a small cult fan-base and expecting it to take the country by storm isn't good business."

Ever heard of Twilight?

Please, Aglialoro. Go Galt. If this is the kind of crap we're going to miss, we'll survive.

Well, there are only so many basement dwelling dweebs who believe that kind of crap. And their allowance only goes so far...

The rest of us got over the juvenile Rand years ago.

It would appear that, in this case, where the "invisible hand" of the market has issued a thumbs-down on his own endeavors, Mr. Aglioloro is not so fond of capitalism after all.

Nice to see all of you "open-minded" and "tolerant" liberals bearing your hateful fangs in such an intolerant and closed-minded way. I don't even think you get the hypocrisy of it all. Typical.

I'm reading the book again to see how accurate the movie is. How could she predict NLRB orders to Boeing? How about scientific opinions about global warming oops, I mean Reardon metal?

This is the greatest EpicFail of all time. I wish I could bottle the tears of the conservatives and use them for lubricant.

Didn't he ever read "The Fountainhead"? Oooo, burn!

The movie, unfortunately, had a hard time competing with the real life heavy handed machinations of the NLRB and Boeing.

John Aglialoro, the businessman, has no courage to conviction. No artistic sensibility would quite amid the most scathing criticism. I say to you John: rise above.

Instead of "Atlas Shrugged", I'd prefer seeing someone bring the *TRUE* story of capitalism to the big screen-"The Wealth of Nations". What Rand and her "disciples" don't seem to understand is that "Atlas" doesn't describe capitalism; rather, a bastardized form of it in which corporations realize all the gains and all of the risk is shifted to the population at large (represented by the spooky nexus of "government") . "Atlas" is to economics and finance as religious texts are to science and engineering.

It's not the critics...the movie just isn't good, no matter what the politics are. A movie can be flat out bad...it has nothing to do with the message or source material.

Well, I didn't really expect much.

John Aglialoro is a first time writer/producer with no experience in the industry at all.

The Director, Paul Johansson, greatest claim to fame? One Tree Hill as an actor.
And his Directing Experinence? One Tree Hill.

I know this story is as sacrosanct to Conservatives, but with this caliber of Producer and Director, what would you expect?

Further, I would have much rather seen The Fountainhead adapted. Frankly, Atlas Shrugged (both the book and the movie) came across as a one-dimensional attempt at a capitalistic treatise, and less of a profound, thought-provoking narrative.

"Christianity is a perfect kindergarten for communist" -- Ayn Rand ....Objectivism and Christianity are not compatible (according to Ayn Rand) yet the right still loves it, discuss.

The movie is just bad...not because of the message, politics, source material...whatever. Bad script+bad acting+bad direction= bad movie

On strike or on sulk. I wonder if John Galt allowed critics to deter him from succeeding. No, but I think capitalism has struck again and a the creator of can't accept the box office doesn't lie.

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