'Atlas Shrugged' Sequel Sets Release Date, Adds Execs

Atlas Part 2 Poster - P 2012

Atlas Part 2 Poster - P 2012

The production hires Bill Lewis, who worked on distribution for the "Twilight" movies, and Russell Schwartz, who helped market the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Atlas Shrugged – Part 2 has chosen an Oct. 12 release date and has hired an experienced distributor and marketer, a contrast to the first installment, which relied heavily on word-of-mouth among Ayn Rand fans and Internet buzz to drum up an audience.

The production is set to announce today that it has hired Bill Lewis to spearhead U.S. theatrical distribution and Russell Schwartz to head marketing efforts.

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Schwartz, currently president of Pandemic Marketing, was president of domestic marketing at New Line Cinema, where he helped create and manage campaigns for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Hairspray, Elf and other hit films.

Lewis most recently was executive vp and general sales manager of domestic distribution at Summit Entertainment, where his responsibilities included the U.S. theatrical release of the Twilight films.

Atlas Shrugged – Part 1 leaned heavily on members of the Tea Party to spread the word that the film appealed to their Libertarian, free-market and small-government sensibilities, but while the film opened strong, business quickly fell off.

This time, says producer Harmon Kaslow, the $15 million production will get a proper, albeit undisclosed, marketing budget.

“The industry will take us more seriously now that we have Russell and Bill on board,” Kaslow said. “Last time, we marketed in an unorthodox fashion. This time, in addition to online, we’ll do traditional print, radio and TV advertising.”

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Kaslow said he has allocated 10 times more money to marketing Part 2 than he did for Part 1, and he plans on opening the film on more than 300 screens.

Helping his cause is that he has purposely timed the release to take advantage of the hype that will surround the November presidential election.

“Some of the major scenes in Part 2 are themes of the campaign – especially the economy and energy policy,” he said. “The book addressed these scenarios 50 years ago, and now they are even more relevant today.”

Part 2 will run two hours and stars Samantha Mathis as Dagny Taggart, taking over for Taylor Schilling, who played her in the first film. Jason Beghe is Henry Rearden, Esai Morales plays Francisco d' Anconia, D.B. Sweeney is John Galt, and Kim Rhodes, best known as the mom on Disney’s The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, is Lillian Rearden.

Part 2 begins with the world’s economy on the brink of collapse. Unemployment in the U.S. is 24 percent, gas is $42 a gallon and the most productive people in the country have begun a “strike” to protest high taxes, government regulation and lawmakers who demonize success.

A teaser trailer for the movie (below) features Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Phil Donahue, John Stossel and Dennis Miller. A new trailer is due out this week, Kaslow said.