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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

No Gold For “Atlas Shrugged” Flick

As James Vega explained in the previous post, GOP budget wizard Paul Ryan is a very big fan of that perennial favorite of adolescents everywhere, the late Ayn Rand (if you are unfamiliar with Rand’s life and work, check out my review of two recent biographies that appeared in Democracy last year).
While Ryan’s muse is still posthumously selling a lot of books, the long-awaited movie version of her self-described magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, is not doing so well. To be more precise, the flick is billed as “part one” of a projected trilogy, but it’s not clear at this point that parts two and three will ever be made.
As Dave Weigel notes, receipts for Atlas Shrugged, Part I have taken a nose-dive in the second week after its release, which is never a good sign:

In its second week of release, after expanding from 300 to 465 theaters, Atlas Shrugged: Part I may have started to tank. The movie hauled $879,000 over the weekend; more importantly, it only made an average of $1,890 per screen. The first week, it made $5,600 per screen. Producers have been talking about expanding the film to 1000 screens by the end of the month, but even in a remarkably lame year for Hollywood films (Water for Elephants, anyone? Anyone?) there’s no new audience discovering the film.

And that’s with Rand acolytes and elements of the Tea Party movement hyping it.
I haven’t seen the flick (the closest theater showing it is about an hour-and-a-half drive away), and am not in a hurry to see it, having gone through an Objectivist phase in high school like many Americans. The reviews are mostly very negative, and it’s reasonably clear the movie was rushed through production to take advantage of the latest politically-driven Rand fad.
The film’s notable lack of success is highly ironic, though, for two reasons. Rand spent a critical chunk of her own life in the movie business, which was, in fact, her ticket out of the Soviet Union as a young woman. But even more importantly, she always preached that money provided the only morally valid measure of human effort; it’s why she (and many of her followers) wore a gold dollar sign pin the way Christians wear crosses. By that standard, the movie she inspired appears to have been something of a waste of everybody’s time.

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