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The producers behind Atlas Shrugged Part 1 have made their intention to make a sequel official, albeit with a new cast and crew, with principal photography set to begin in April. The team is also planning an October release, hoping that the politically charged film will strike a chord with moviegoers a few weeks before they head to voting booths to choose a U.S. president.
The first film opened last year on April 15 to coincide with Tax Day – high taxation being one of the themes of Atlas Shrugged, the classic novel by Ayn Rand — and with no traditional marketing earned a respectable $5,640 per theater. While the Rand faithful praised the film for getting the Objectivist-Libertarian philosophy right, critics panned the movie and its box office trailed off quickly.
Part 1 earned $4.6 million on a budget filmmakers have alternately claimed was either $10 million or $20 million. The film’s failure put in doubt plans to turn the 1,100-page book into a movie trilogy, though the filmmakers said Thursday that Atlas Shrugged Part 2 is fully funded.
For Part 2, producers John Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow have brought on Duncan Scott, who produced We the Living in 1986, a three-hour foreign film also based on a Rand novel.
The filmmakers chose to announce the project Thursday because it is the 107th anniversary of Rand’s birth, and they make no apologies for setting a release date that, if the film resonates, could influence voters.
“Part 2 is set to be in theaters October 2012 amidst what is sure to be a fever-pitched presidential election season,” a spokesman for the production said in an e-mail to The Hollywood Reporter.
If the release date sticks, it won’t have to worry about competition from Sony’s movie about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. That film, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, had been set to open Oct. 12, three weeks ahead of the Nov. 6 general election. After a New York Times columnist wrote that the timing was intentional to boost President Obama’s reelection effort and Republicans cried foul, Sony switched the date to Dec. 19, though the studio cited scheduling conflicts and insisted politics played no role.
Atlas Shrugged, first published in 1957, is about a future U.S. that is overburdened with governmental regulations allegedly designed to wipe out economic inequality. Things go horribly wrong when the most productive members of society start to go missing. The story has been especially embraced by conservatives and Tea Partiers who see Rand’s dystopian U.S. in the policies of the Obama administration.
Aglialoro and Kaslow are set to announce casting and other details as early as today.
A teaser trailer gives no hint of casting but is replete with famous faces discussing Rand and her book, including Glenn Beck, John Stossel, Dennis Miller, Phil Donahue and Rand herself.
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