Oh, "Atlas Shrugged." Promoted as being some kind of fiercely independent film that would find an audience with die hard Tea Party types, it ultimately played for virtually nobody, scraping a mere $4.6 million (on a budget of $20 million) during its five week run this spring, along with plenty of scathing reviews to go with it. Hardly surprising for a film that was launched not as any grand artistic endeavour, but mostly because the rights were about to expire unless something was cobbled together and throw up on screen. No surprise then that the result was an adaptation we called "soulless" and "cut-rate" no matter where you stand on Ayn Rand and her politics. Indeed, it even seemed like the filmmakers had thrown in the towel, with the muted response seemingly killing plans for the planned sequels with producer and financier John Aglialoro saying, “Critics, you won. I’m having deep second thoughts on why I should do Part 2… Why should I put up all of that money if the critics are coming like lemmings? 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.” But keep hope alive Randians because another cheapie, rushed movie might on its way to you soon!
24 Frames reports that the filmmakers have struck a deal with 20th Century Fox to distribute the film on home video this fall and that alone seems to have lifted everyone's spirits. Ah, the power of commerce! And now, according to producer Harmon Kaslow, "all revenue" from the film will be poured into cranking out the sequel for release next year. "John has a much clearer perspective," Kaslow said of Aglialoro's change of heart . "He’s always wanted to have a studio level support for the film and I think feels that his effort in producing Part 1 has been validated by having the largest home video distributor in America aboard."
Of course, the only reason Fox is on board is because the producers are actually paying a fee to the studio to distribute the movie, but we suppose they'll take validation even if they have to manufacture it themselves. As for getting a bigger audience for the movie, Kaslow thinks better marketing might be the key. "What we discovered with the film is that it really doesn’t fit squarely into a lot of business models," said Kaslow. "We got incredible grass roots and community level support for the movie, but what we didn’t have was the polished marketing edge that the studios have perfected. Now we get to use their marketing, their fulfillment capacity. We think that makes more sense for us than mortgaging those rights off for a number."
Anyway, it seems the wooden acting, cheap sets and TV soap opera feel are yet to be addressed and we assume the principal cast will be back, mostly because we can't imagine they have anything better to do. The goal is to get the movie in theaters in time for the 2012 election when according to Kaslow, "There will be a debate going on about the direction of the country, and a lot of the groups who have embraced Ayn Rand’s philosophies will be engaged."
If at first you don't succeed, try and try again....something about that sounds very un-Randian.