'Atlas Shrugged' Producer Promises Two Sequels Despite Terrible Reviews, Poor Box Office
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.
And he defended his film Wednesday by accusing professional film reviewers of political bias. How else, he asks, to explain their distaste for a film that is liked by the audience? At Rottentomatoes.com, 7,400 people gave it an average 85% score.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, though, gave the movie zero stars, and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it one. A dozen others were equally dismissive.
"It was a nihilistic craze," Aglialoro said. "Not in the history of Hollywood has 16 reviewers said the same low things about a movie.
"They're lemmings," he said. "What's their fear of Ayn Rand? They hate this woman. They hate individualism.
"I'm going to get a picture of Ebert and Travers and the rest of them so I can wake up in the morning and they'll be right there. They're revitalizing me with their outrageousness."
Aglialoro said he had to scale down his ambition for the film to be in 1,000 theaters this weekend, so it will likely be closer to 400. During its opening weekend, the movie took in $5,640 per screen but then only $1,890 in its second. Through Wednesday, the film had grossed $3.3 million since opening April 15.
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."