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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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Hahahahaha!

Hey, Randroids, the market has spoken. Now, would you all please go Galt.

I saw the movie and loved it! I only had heard of the book recently and will be looking for it so to not have to wait for the rest of the story. Please give it time to grow John, DVD will get the word out quickly to build excitement for parts 2 and 3!

Mr Aglialoro, as a writer or a movie producer, is certainly no John Gault, unless Gault got hooked on crack, went on welfare and wrote a movie after an 8 ball and a case of 4 loco.

This movie has all the quality of a Wesley Mouch production.

The irony here is that the Rand followers have become the very leeches they rail against:

-Mr Aglialoro leeched off the fame of the book to create, not a "gold standard" example of film making, but rather something that James Taggert himself would say was mediocre.

-Most members of the Tea Party leech off the government in some way, through government pensions, medicare or social security.

-Many of the biggest advocates of Randian objectivism work for the very financial industry that received $4 trillion dollars in bailout money from Bush, Obama, Congress and the Fed.

There was a time where some of the best and most productive minds were either conservative or Randian. That time has long passed, now the only people that follow that "train" are leeches or weak minded fools who cannot think beyond linear reasoning and weak casual relationships.

If you think this is a movie worthy of John Gault and/or you still see the world through a conservative/liberal duality, wake up. You want to see who the real leeches are? You don't need to go down to the welfare offices, just look in your bathroom mirror.

Regarding this comment:
___________________________________________________

"I never believed this film was a Tea Party or Conservative film. Libertarian perhaps.

Ayn Rand is an Atheist Objectionist, there is no moral code to her work, no God. The folks, the American folks, do not follow Ayn Rand as their capitalist, free market, moral compass."
___________________________________________________

which was posted by: hollywoodron | 04/27/2011 at 12:25 PM:
________________________

Many Tea Partiers carry Ayn Rand signs. The Tea Party consists of fiscal conservatives. These include social/religious conservatives, libertarian conservatives, big-'L' Libertarians, and Objectivists [not "objectionists"], who are similar to those libertarians who steer clear of flirtations with anarchists.

Yes, social conservatives believe in God, as defined by Judeo-Christians primarily, and some Libertarians do and some don't. Objectivists believe in Objectivism, and not in God. There is a whole book on Rand's philosophy, which has moral underpinnings not based on God, called "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand" by Dr. Leonard Peikoff, her sole heir and spokesperson for her ideas. [Without his permission this film would not have been authorized.] Yes, she is an atheist. No, you are wrong: there is a strong moral code to her work. "Moral code" and "God" are not the synonymous terms you suggest they are.

If these groups stopped bickering among themselves at election time, liberals [progressives, socialists, fascists, communists - all under the umbrella, "statists,"] would have no chance at the polls. Their common bond is small government, reduced spending, low taxes, personal responsibility, property rights.

The Critics may have disliked it, but compare that to the 85% that the average movie goers have given it on rotten tomatoes. I personally rather enjoy the film, and would be sad if the trilogy never finished. Honestly, I'd pin the low performance on a lack of advertising, I'm fairly certain a majority of my friends aren't even aware it exists, i wasn't until one of my friends suggested we go see it. I hope it can rake in a bit more as word gets spread around. Personally, I'd trust the overall positive reviews of 7,400 people over that of the 35 critics.

I am a movies fan. Atlas Shrugged is the best movie I've ever seen. It's made at right time and in right place. It's one of the best directed movie and outstanding performance. This movie has and will have poor review simple because most of critics support leftists and progressives. I can't wait to see 2nd and 3rd part.

Atlas Shrugged is a game changer and John Aglialoro did a wonderful job making the film. I believe he will make #2 and #3 because I fully expect that the film was the result of his belief in the topic. That being valid, then, “Who is John Galt?”

It is not the common movie that gives you all the pieces wrapped in a little 'non-thinking' package. This one is entertaining and raises more questions than it answers and the real use of the movie is its potential for opening the eyes of folks who are un-educated in Ayn Rand's philosophical writings.

I take friends who aren't knowledgeable in this, and - to a person - each one has commented almost exactly the same - saying, “Loved the movie – but it leaves me with so many questions!” So for me, the power of the movie lies not in the folks who already know, but in sharing it with the ones who don't.

My life is invested in studying human thought and interaction. One constant crosses all others in bringing about real lasting change in a persons’ life -- People learn better, and are most deeply impacted (permanently changed) by questions in which they can discover their own answers using their own intuition and study....

This movie is perfect for that and I predict that it will be life changing for all who see it...

When it comes to the criticisms of "Atlas Shrugged" Mr. Aglialoro needs to consider the source. Critics have and always will be people who can not produce, can ONLY criticize. Also, what ever made Mr. Aglialoro think that the majority of today's public would understand and embrace Rand's philosophy? Give it time!!! Having said that, our plea to you is; PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP. To make this book in its entirety into a movie, is now more important then ever. We are teetering and have NEVER been so close to falling.
Eva Byram
Fallbrook, CA

I love this movie and never seen one TV ad for it. I just found out about it from the internet when it was coming out. With sales of Atlas Shrugged merchandise, DVDs I think it will make its money back. I hope if he doesn't want any thing to do with part 2 he gives the rights to someone who knows how produce and market a movie better. Maybe the ReelzChannel will buy the rights to part 1 now that people found out where that channel is since the "Kennedys".

Did this guy not understand the philosophy he was making a movie of?

The movie was much better than I expected and the characters were well played. i don't know how people are responding if they haven't read the book. Perhaps this will encourage them to do so as so much of this is happening in today's enviornment. Long live John Galt.

I am very much shocked to read the producer Aglialoro's comments ,about not going ahead with part 2 and 3 of the movie Atlas Shrugged. He took such a challange in presenting the first part and now swayed by the most unreliable critic comments he wants to deprive all the viewers who have so whole heartedly enjoyed the movie. It is indeed very sad that such noteworthy film will remain incomplete. I think just like the charecters in the book Dagny and Reardan he should also show courage and perseverance to finish his future projects. May be he should do little more tv ads and few bill boards to let general public know about the movie and the book. If more awareness is created ,there will be certainly be more response by public. DVD market is still open so he should do more publicity and draw more attention to this movie.

The amount of scorn this movie received from the press actually only goes to show what a success the movie was with keeping to Ayn Rand's true vision. I agree with an earlier post, who cares what critics in the LA Times or the NY Post say or do not say. Intelligent and productive people will always decide for themselves what has value and what does not. I for one loved the book and applaud Mr. Aglialoro for keeping to it!. I can only hope part 2 and 3 are as good.

What a neophyte.

You don't create films for the critics, you create them for the audience.

This guy is too soft skinned and childish to be in movies.

I'm a conservative Capitalist, but we don't need whiners to champion our cause.

I feel so sorry for what the critics had to say about this movie. They always have a tendency to view things through a warped prism.

I have just finished watching the film this afternoon and found it to be refreshing and thought provoking. It certainly causes one to ponder how close a parallel there is between todays real world and the movie. The plot in part 1 defines very well what is going on today. All one has to do is look around oneself to see the similaries and the consequences of having too much governmental involvement in the business world.

We need to wake up and realize that we are going down a track that can lead to fiancial ruin.

I certainly hope Mr. Aglialoro will continue with his project...KUDOS

I Emailed over 300 of my contacts to go see this this film! Millions like Me who loved this film it will catch on like the Movie "The Greek Wedding" in 2002 did. This is a sleeper and will be a huge success before the year is over. There is NO WAY that the Producer will not continue the series. I PROMISE YOU THIS<<<<<< THIS COULD HAPPEN IF WE SIT ON OUR ASS AND NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE VOTING PROCESS. Wake up America. Joe Walters.

Saw the movies this weekend for the first time. Thought it was great. I am looking forward to parts 2 and 3 it would be a shame if they were not made. Those who don't like maybe because they fear its truth.

Having recently read both Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, and being a movie 'buff,' I was interested to see how what I thought to be an unfilmable book (Atlas Shrugged) would be handled. I thought the film was reasonably well done and cleverly 'updated' the text (how to make railroads 'important' today, for example). I thought the reviews unnecessarily harsh, making me wonder if most of the reviewers aren't biased by their personal politics (?).
Or . . . perhaps you need to know the novel; maybe the script is a bit confusing without that background? After about a year of reading Ayn Rand's philosophy, I am not a fan: at best she is simply wrong, at worst possibly a paranoid crackpot. But her novels are fun (if you like grand soap operas, impossibly heroic, cartoon characters) and since her philosophy holds a large sway with a certain segment of conservative and libertarian 'believers' it's good to know her point of view simply to be able to argue knowledgeably. I hope parts Two and Three of 'Atlas Shrugged' see the light of day. Perhaps Aglialoro could get HBO or ? to co-invest with him? It does seem a long shot that THREE films could sustain themselves; a 'mini-series' on TV seems more practical. Anyway, thanks for Part One; here's hoping for the rest!

It's interesting that the writer calls Atlas a "sacred text among many conservatives" when it is actually libertarians who love Rand. Ayn Rand's heroes are all atheists, and the conservatives find that unforgiveable. The conservatives do not understand the morality of capitalism. They understand that it works, but they don't know why.

Atlas Shrugged was absolutely panned when it came out as a novel. Why should the movie be any different? The movie was competent, even stirring, at times. Dagny and Hank were well done. This novel is so beloved, it is virtually impossible to satisfy everyone. However, there is no Atlas movie under the sun that the Hollywood leftists would embrace. That is a fact.

I read Atlas Shrugged several years ago and again recently. I'd forgotten how good it was, and how timely.

I went to see the film today (Tuesday afternoon matinee). There were just three of us in the theater, not too surprising since it was an afternoon showing, college kids are still in school and the film got absolutely no local publicity.

I wouldn't call it a fantastic film, but I thought it was far better than the critical comments made by many here. Of course it helped that I knew the whole story before seeing it.

But those who believe that redistribution of wealth is a good thing will absolutely hate this film. It's easy to tell where most critics stand on that issue.

Clearly, the director also needs to read Rand's Fountainhead. These critics are morons. I mean, Roger Ebert is probably the most "famous" one of them, and a big part of his "review" complains about the fact that a book in 1957 focused on railroads instead of airline companies.

And part of the problem is the release was so limited. There wasn't a single theater in my entire state that is showing it. At all. I'd still have to drive all the way to Cheyenne to see it.

It's not a popular philosophy. Hell it's practically inhuman. And saying your only purpose is to make money is a huge insult to yourself. Almost every person on the planet makes money, and do much more. If that's your only purpose, you're pretty sub-par. Ironically Ayn Rand's philosophy came to bite him in the ass. Whether it was poor production or a poor philosophy, he failed. According to Ayn's philosophy, he doesn't deserve love, sympathy, or comfort for his failure, because weak people don't deserve that.

Not that I agree, but if HE doesn't agree, then he's not much of an Ayn Rand fan, which makes him unfit to produce the movie in the first place, which has been pretty much proven by the results and his reaction.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Atlas Shrugged part 1 is well acted, visually appealing and held my interest throughout leaving me wanting MORE. I hope the producer decides to overlook the narrow-minded view of the critics and move on to part 2.
I heard about Atlas Shrugged part 1 through word of mouth. I have yet to see anything resembling a conscientious marketing campaign that would certainly put arses in the seats.
It's no wonder it's being panned by critics, Ayn Rand's magnum opus Atlas Shrugged is the antithesis to their "progressive" ideals. Movies with anything resembling a conservative agenda or even movies cast with known conservative actors in most cases get thumbs down from allegedly open minded reviewers. I NEVER rely on some pampered lefty douchbag’s idea of what entertainment is.
It would not suprise me to find out that most of the haters blogging here did not even see this movie. Why you ask? Because:
Liberalism is a mental disorder.

Ayn wouldn't quit - don't quit now John. This is a film that 'must be finished'.
Your fans can help.

I loved this movie. It discusses a vitally important topic. The divisive nature of the reviews speaks to the critical need for clarity on what Ayn was trying to convey. I am making a list of every film critic that trashed this movie and will make a point to never read their reviews again. I am also considering posting their names on my web site. It is the freedom to be unequal that has made America great. Atlas was a celebration of excellence in any field developed with painstaking dedication, sacrifice, and maximum use of brainpower. The roaring 90's have left us with a culture that still doesn't understand how hard it is to make money by producing valued goods and services. I hope, as a country, enough of us remember soon enough to save the USA from the fiscal train wreck.

 
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