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

April 26, 2011 |  5:16 pm

Atlas
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.

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-- Rebecca Keegan

twitter.com/@thatrebecca

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

 



 
Comments () | Archives (223)

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Re Rotten Tomatoes: the liberal critics are all wrong, while the actual red-blooded teabaggers voting are, of course, right.

The invisible hand spoke. No one wants to watch his film. And yet he complains? Cognitive dissonance much?

I think the critics were unfairly subjective in their scathing reviews. The movie was provocative and entertaining.

Even though I do not "agree" with all of Ayn Rand's often rigid dogma, I appreciate the insight and wisdom that her story possessed. The liberal critics seemed to be panning the philosophical ideas more than the actual film. The photography, scenery, and tightly-written script eloquently capture the first part of Ayn Rand's novel.

To Mr. Aglialoro, I refer him to a quote by Moliere: "The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it."
- Moliere

This is a bluff. Didn't you see the "tell"? He is a poker expert. This is part of the strategy to get attention by playing victim of mainstream media reviewers. Well, the Atlas Shrugged movie certainly was not treated fairly by the mainstream media, so that's a completely fair opening move. Nonetheless, expect part 2 of Atlas Shrugged on April 15, 2012. In fact, my guess is they'll do part 2 and 3 together.

Goodness, what a whiny baby. He obviously doesn't have what it takes to make it in the business.

Could it just be that the movie isn't all that great? Crazy talk, I know. That can't be it. Must be some sort of vast secret conspiracy to suppress dissenting voices. Yeah, that sounds much more plausible.

"This guy is a poker player? The enemy called his bluff." -- Brad Linaweaver

LOL @ idiots supporting this stupid book and incompetent adaptation, although I suppose the one fully deserves the other. To all repigs - the rest of the world is laughing at you.

The movie needs to be advertised. There's not one commercial, one trailer on DVD or BluRay rentals. No one knows about the movie, the book, or the purpose or reason behind the story unless you are one of those people who are willing to read and expand your mind. I of course don't know the producers and directors but if you want a movie to work in this culture and economy you need to play by their rules... EXACTLY as Ayn Rand's book says. Just use the system to advertise and people will go to it.

I went to the movie on a 1:30pm Friday showing, (I told my wife she has to finish the book before she sees the movie =) ) and the theater in New Berlin, Wisconsin had a ton of people... not packed, not full, but a lot more than I expected for a matenee showing.

This trilogy needs to be finished. People aren't reading anymore, they want Fast and Furious. The first part was good enough to get people thinking, was shot in a modern day way, had plot, characters and climax as a great movie should. My major concern was that the characters acted exactly as they should like their characters in the book, but on the screen translates to unemotional. They were true to the book, true to reason and rationalization, logic and facts. They were true to their pride in their work and what made them happy. If this isn't the American dream, I don't know what is.

Finish this series. Please.

He's going on strike?

What the heck? Is he some kind of Socialist Commie Nazi Liberal?

But seriously, he needs to contact Michael R. Brown. I'm sure he has some awesome ideas on how to make billions.

The last laugh is on the critics who think the present trend will somehow get resolved with an economy that roars with success and the politicians can tax and spend forever. Atlas Shrugged the movie could have been wake up call but too many are so sound asleep it will take a concrete experience of hyperinflation or a depression to realize there is something wrong. Those who criticized haven't produced a damn thing except caustic remarks and sniveling sneers. Those willing to cling to the ideas of the past will suffer just as the blind adherents of all past collectivist regimes. The promise of America has produced an ignorant populace that is willing to listen to the promises of pompous politicians as people who have no solutions , create problems and redistribute without a recognition that debt destroys individuals and countries.

This producer guy is delusional. If the true fans wanted to see it, they would have gone to see it regardless of the critics reviews. I've read of people actually driving miles to see this film, so that shows you their dedication to see this. Clearly those who actually wantd to see it saw it opening weekend, and that's it. But yeah blame critics instead of your product being underwhelming.

Ayn Rand fans, u mad?

“It’s over. The franchise is dead. The press killed it. Your magazine ******* killed it. New York Magazine. It’s like all the critics got together and said, ‘This franchise must die.’ Because they all had the exact same review. It’s like they didn’t see the movie.”
Actor Chris Noth last September talking about the critical reaction to Sex and the City II

And, Lord, the critics loathe Tyler Perry movies. Yet the Madea movie has earned over $25 million since its Friday opening.

The point: People will go to movies they like, regardless of reviews (Madea), and they won't go to bad movies, even if they liked its source material or predecessor (SATC).

Who cares what the critics say. Make the other two for those that are loyal fans. If you're going to make a profit on this film you will on the next two. I for one will probably see this movie a second time before it leaves the theater and will buy the DVD. I want the day that I can sit back and watch all three parts in a row. Please don't listen to critics listen to the reason for doing this in the first place.

There's nothing he could have said that would be worse for ticket sales on PART 1 OF A THREE PART MOVIE than to announce that he may not make parts 2 and 3!

It does not surprise me in the slightest that critics panned the movie. I fully expected it, no matter what was put on the screen.

Rand had a few things to say about critics in her earlier novel "The Fountainhead", and they weren't very complimentary.

I liked the movie, and I think the most important audience are those people who haven't read the book. I've been doing what I can to recommend it to everyone I know.

The good opening weekend followed by a lackluster second weekend is not too surprising, either. All the serious Rand fans were looking forward to it for a long time and saw it as soon as it opened. Don't throw in the towel so quickly, John. Give it a little time. There may be a delayed reaction until word gets around and the non-readers get around to seeing it. I'm doing my part in browbeating everyone I know to check it out.

I love that this idiot made a crappy movie about the free market but now he's criticizing the free market for his film's failure. LOL.

Isn't a central tenet of Randian philosophy the wrongness of one person trying to profit off of the talent and creation of another person?

I guess she wasn't talking about film adaptations...

Isn't "going Galt" supposed to be what the TALENTED people do?

PS (Nelson voice): HA HA!

What a tragedy that, once again, the destructive liberal left has once again committed itself to tearing apart something that doesn't happen to go along with their progressive agenda . . . but, of course, would you expect any less of them? It's what they always do when they can't talk about their failed policies - which is, frankly, all the time. Their paranoia about the upcoming 2012 election is showing; otherwise, why would they feel a need to be so destructive about a movie based on a best-selling NON-FICTION NOVEL that has been a classic for over 40 years? They should be ashamed. Exactly where is the tolerance they expouse at every minute of every day? Absoultely non-existent! They're such hypocrites, and I would be embarrassed to be associated with such a smug, elitist, nasty and dishonest organization. Then again, look at who their role models are . . .

By the way, here's the dictionary definition of a hypocrite: "a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs."

Sound like anyone you know?

18 years? It took the guy 18 years to make a movie about a book where the heroes are all selfish, greedy narcissists?

You'd think long before 18 years were up that he'd have figured out (1) it's lousy fiction that some people think is profound philosophy and (2) people don't like selfish, greedy narcissists unless they're the same way.

Now he's whining. Typical Republican teabagger...

He is all different kinds of mad. Did he really think it was going to be a success?

I see Aglialoro is very concerned about second-handed approval and mass critical appeal, basing his artistic ambition solely on the approval of others. Maybe he should read The Fountainhead ;)

Yes, it's a liberal conspiracy. Whenever the free market fails for right-wingers, it's a liberal conspiracy. What sterling character conservatives have! Never playing the victim, using that rugged individualism and exceptionalism to generate the whiniest excuses you'll hear outside a kindergarten.

 
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