Critical Brickbats May Have Killed 'Atlas Shrugged' Sequels

Next time someone talks about how critics don't matter (it's bound to happen with the summer movie wave encroaching) just point to Atlas Shrugged: Part I. The miserable-looking partial adaptation of Ayn Rand's massive novel has taken in a paltry few million in the past two weeks, with a near-50% drop-off between weekends.

Now producer John Aglialoro, who spent years trying to make the film, says he might abandon his plans to continue the adaption with two more movies. And while there's a part of me that wants to accept the overwhelming commercial power of the movie critic, in this case I have to wonder if Atlas Shrugged wasn't actually done in by the fact of being a lousy movie.

Speaking to the LA Times, he says,

Critics, you won... I'm having deep second thoughts on why I should do Part 2.

Deep second thoughts? How about some serious first thoughts: did I rush the first film into production? Was the director far too inexperienced to take on a project like this? Was the script any good? How about the cast? Did I make this movie for any reason other than the fact of the impending loss of the right to do so?

Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 did really well in limited release the first weekend it opened, in part because the marketing targeted the conservative political base that really embraced Ayn Rand after the 2008 presidential election. It sank like a stone afterward because even that audience, despite being just about as predisposed to like the movie as a producer is going to find, thought it sucked.

The producer elaborated,

Why should I put up all of that money if the critics are coming in 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.

I know I won't be the first one to say it, but to echo the sentiment expressed by others: please do. Meanwhile, read a great account of two biographies of the contradictory, confused and inexplicably iconic Ayn Rand, from Slate in 2009.