When Atlas Shrugged Part 1 expanded to 450 screens last week everyone thought it was going to do gangbusters. Then it collapsed at the box office and everyone began to ask what will happen to parts 2 & 3.
From the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday April 26, 2011 at 5:16 p.m.
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."
From the Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday April 27, 2011 at 8:37 p.m."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."
The man who says he spent $10 million of his own money to bring Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 to the big screen vowed Wednesday to go through with his plans to make the next two installments, even though critics hate the movie and business at movie theaters has fallen off a cliff.
In fact, said John Aglialoro, the co-producer and financier, it's the monolithic view from critics that say the movie stinks that is motivating him to make Parts 2 and 3, he told The Hollywood Reporter.
Aglialoro acknowledged that spending almost no money on marketing and relying almost entirely on the Internet and talk radio -- a strategy he boasted of a week ago -- was ineffective in the long run.
"You really need to spend millions to get the message on TV screens," he said. "If I want Part 2 to open on 1,500 screens, I need to decide if I want to spend $10 million on TV commercials."
He also is considering partnering with a major studio for the next two installments, as he may do for international distribution on Part 1.
He said he's sticking to his plan to release Part 2 on April 15, 2012, and Part 3 on April 15, 2013, though gathering the same talent and crew might be a problem.
"The critics killed it so badly that agents may tell their clients they shouldn't be associated with this thing," he said. "I've got to give it to the critics. They won this battle, but they will not win the war. The message has been told in Part 1, and it will be told in Parts 2 and 3."