Atlas Failed

When “Atlas Shrugged, Part 1” opened on April 15, one of the goals of the film’s producers was to encourage Hollywood to make more conservative-friendly films. Given the box office performance of the film, is that likely to happen?

The short answer is “no.”

The key to “Atlas Shrugged, Part 1” being successful was going to be to get the target conservative audience to go out to movie theaters in large numbers. That didn’t happen.

Even though the film was heavily pushed by such conservative heavyweights such as FreedomWorks, CATO and The Heritage foundation, it appears the film couldn’t overcome the almost universally scathing reviews given it by critics, or find an audience outside of Ayn Rand fans.

According to boxofficemojo.com, after a solid opening weekend gross of $1.7 million in 299 theaters for a $5,640 per theater average, the second weekend saw a 47.8 percent drop in gross revenue even though the film expanded to 465 theaters. That was followed by another 46.8 percent drop for its third weekend to a meager $1,263 average for 371 theaters. That’s the profile of a film rapidly running out of steam.

After the second weekend, the film’s producer, John Aglialoro — who spent $20 million of his own money and 18 years getting the film made and distributed — remained confident about the prospects of his envisioned trilogy. “It’s my hope that some of the major studios will believe that this is not just a movie and it’s over. I’m open to making a deal with a major studio,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

However, due to the continuing downward-trending theatrical performance the following weekend, Aglialoro is reconsidering plans to start production of Part 2 in the fall. “Critics, you won,” he said. “Why should I put up all of that money if the critics are coming in like lemmings?” He remains confident he will eventually recoup his investment through TV and other channels. “I’ll make my money back and I’ll make a profit, but do I wanna go and do two?”

Considering that the last major conservative film to come out of Hollywood, David Zucker’s 2008 “An American Carol” also bombed theatrically, this doesn’t bode well for the prospects of Hollywood rushing out to make more conservative-friendly films.

The poor track record of conservative-friendly films in theatrical release could be due to the liberal bias of Hollywood as so many conservatives love to claim. On the other hand, it might help the cause if these movies were better made and more entertaining.

Entertainment-value is the bottom line, isn’t it?