CHICAGO, April 29, 2011 — By current Hollywood standards, it is a movie that should never have been made. Imagine this story pitch to progressive movie execs: “we have a female heroine, genius entrepreneurs disappearing, and a government conspiring to control its people and their creations. In short, a powerfully persuasive anti-government message.”
Not exactly “Iron Man 3” is it?
Yet, despite (or because of) Hollywood’s best efforts to keep the movie down, “Atlas” is racking up dollar signs at the box office. With a hearty $5640 per theater in its opening weekend, “Atlas Shrugged,” based on the influential Ayn Rand best-seller, has left Hollywood insiders dumbstruck to explain its success.
The Hollywood Reporter has reported that the film will expand its release from 299 theaters to 425 this weekend and to 1,000 by the end of the month.
What is the explanation? Rand Power.
“Atlas Shrugged” remains one of the best-selling books of all time. More than 7,000,000 copies of the tome have been sold since it was first published. It is currently #4 on the Amazon best-seller list.
Fervent fans of Ayn Rand – or Randians as they are called – have been packing theaters where the film is being shown. According to “Atlas” executive producer Harmon Kaslow, the film has over-performed in markets like Atlanta, New York, Nashville, generating as much as $12,000 to $25,000 per theater.
That’s Rand Power.
So, why was it so hard to get the film made?
Randians would answer, “Well, who is John Galt?”
“(Executive Producer) John Aglialoro got the rights 18 years ago,” explains Kaslow at the film’s Chicago premiere. “At that point, a survey had just come out that said that this was the second most influential book behind the Bible and he (John) said that obviously a Hollywood studio would just jump at the chance to produce, own, and distribute the movie. He was able to attract interest from world renowned directors and world famous actresses yet we could never get the film greenlit.”
In the end, Aglialoro self-financed “Atlas” to the tune of $20 million rather than let Hollywood decide if the film would ever be made. Aglialoro is the CEO of Cybex International, a fitness equipment manufacturer and has been profiled by Fortune and Forbes’ list of people to watch in 2011.
So is it the film’s message that Hollywood is so opposed to? In the Age of Obama, Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” may be resonating more than ever before and that can’t be sitting well with Hollywood progressives.
A New York Times poll this week showed a 73% disapproval of Congress. A Gallup poll showed President Obama’s approval rating plunged to an all-time low of 41%.
“People are hungry for what these characters are saying,” says executive producer John Aglialoro. “They’re telling the government, ‘Just leave me alone. Let me hang onto my life and pursue my passions and rational self-interest. That’s what will benefit society.”
That message is what is driving the success of “Atlas Shrugged.” Although it was written more than fifty years ago, Rand’s unabashed defense of individualism seems more relevant than ever before.
“We’ve touched a nerve with people,” agrees Kaslow. “Really it is all about the (Rand) brand. Here we haven’t diluted it with any names of anybody. It simply stands up there on its own because it means so much to so many people. Everyone is Atlas Shrugged. Everyone is carrying a weight on their shoulders.”
See the Atlas Shrugged movie trailer here and check your local listings for show days and times.
Conservative satirist and commentator William J. Kelly is also a contributor to Breitbart.com and edits the Tea Party Reports for the Washington Times Communities. He is a native from Chicago’s Southside.
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