Posted in: Movies

‘Atlas Shrugged Part 2’ Falters At The North American Box Office

Atlas Shrugged Part 2 Bombs At Box Office

Director John Putch’s Atlas Shrugged: Part 2 was met with disinterest from the North American movie-going public, Alt Film Guide reports. The film, which stars Samantha Mathis, is the second part of the epic cinematic adaptation of author Ayn Rand’s 1975 novel. On Friday, the movie only managed to make around $692,000 from over 1,000 locations. When you break down those numbers to reveal the project’s per-location totals, the second installment only managed to earn around $684 at each theaters.

Box Office Mojo reports that Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 managed to earn around $674,000 from only 299 theaters. Although the first installment made less than its sequel, it did so in a lot less theaters. Not surprisingly, it may take a while before this particular endeavor can recoup its budget.

Atlas Shrugged follows the adventures of Dagny Taggart, a railroad executive who attempts to keep her business alive and well while the world is coming apart at the seams. Internet Movie Database describes the sequel as follows:

“The global economy is on the brink of collapse. Unemployment tops 24%. Gas is $42 per gallon. Railroads are the main transportation. Brilliant creators, from artists to industrialists, are mysteriously disappearing. Dagny Taggart, COO of Taggart Transcontinental, has discovered an answer to the mounting energy crisis — a prototype of a motor that draws energy from static electricity. But, until she finds its creator, it’s useless. It’s a race against time. And someone is watching.”

The film’s critical reception hasn’t fared much better than its box office returns. The film currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 0 percent from just ten critics. “The people behind the ‘Atlas Shrugged’ series of films have things they want to tell you, and just to make sure that you know what they are, the movies tell you, and tell you, and then tell you again,” Alonso Duralde wrote in his review over at The Wrap.

Did you catch Atlas Shrugged: Part 2 over the weekend? Do you think it was as bad as critics have claimed?

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61 Responses to “‘Atlas Shrugged Part 2’ Falters At The North American Box Office”

  1. Ross Jackson Fenwick

    The fact that the movie has a 0% critical approval rating speaks more about the general political leanings of movie critics than it does about the film itself. For the record, Alt Film Guide was panning the film by Saturday morning. They already knew what they wanted to write, and they were just waiting for the right time to begin the smear.

  2. Martin Metz

    There were still vacant seats at the showing last night in the theater we went to, but I understand that other theaters in Washington State were full to the point folks had to buy their tickets in advance. I think we need to see the actual box office attendance rather than take a cynic's opinion. The facts always are more clarifying than subjective fantasy.

  3. Adrian Luca

    That the film did under 2 million dollars in business from over 1000 screens from Friday to Sunday says more than a million suspect anecdotes from randroids about "full theaters" ever will.

  4. Bob Boren

    This was a good movie, but won't be portayed as such by the leftist media even it if was perfect. I know their game. I saw the movie last night – it was GREAT. Better made and acted than many of the lefty movies that tend to get awards in our society these days. Rand is not for everybody, but there are some universal truths in Atlas Shrugged that the left does not want to acknowledge.

  5. Anonymous

    It was much better then a lot of the junk they put out in Hollywood. Still can't figure out why biased media let that get in the way of their reviews.

  6. Paul Preamble

    Check your facts, 1975 is not even close to when Ayn Rand's book was published. That alone is reason enough to believe there are other factual errors in this article.

  7. Ms. Demeanor's Musings

    I love how people are loving this movie because they believe what the christian Taliban is telling them, FYI, Ayn Rand was a HUGE Athiest. And would more than likely be highly pissed that she is being used by he christian right.

  8. Ms. Demeanor's Musings

    Yeah. Rands' point is that there is no god. She was an Athiest. What a great message for the religious right. Now if they'd only listen… And this is who baby boy ryan worships. Jokes on you.

  9. Jordan Owen

    Indeed- the GOP has no business supporting Ayn Rand. She oppossed all the parties, not just Democrats. I'm going to see it tomorrow- the left wing media just might not be to blame, considering all the right wing news sites I've seen either trashing it or struggling to find praiseworthy elements.

  10. Joy Johnson

    I doubt any follower of Ayn Rand does so because the writings of anyone, besides her own writings. Have you not noticed? We're all individualists – of all stripes! Some of us are atheists, some Christians, but none of us fit into a one size fits all mold. I, being a Christian do not discount the truths that she espouses on the freedom of man – in many ways she and Christ agreed. Big difference: she wasn't perfect.

  11. Martin Metz

    This "Randroid" will be going back for a second sitting at the movie and will look forward to going to the Part III if they bring it out.

  12. Adrian Luca

    ‘There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.’ –John Rogers

  13. John H. Bintliff

    Ms. Demeanor's Musings Sounds like you're a bit of a misanthrope, Ms. I don't know, but I suspect you've never read Rand's work. I'm not talking about the Cliff Notes version. She was a very complex writer who used conversation and description masterfully to convey her conservative views and objectivist philosophy. Her work is a lot like a Sunday brunch buffet. One can take a little of this and leave a little of that and walk away feeling satisfied. Congressman Ryan has rejected her atheist view and embraced her views on the individual vis-a-vis government. This review is not so well-written as Rand's novels. The reviewer hasn't told me anything of value. How well was it acted? Was the plot and story line well-constructed? Did the adaptation to film convey the spirit of the second act in the novel? Did the film make the viewer want to learn more about Part I and look forward to Part III? We get none of this in the review. I'm not surprised. You'd have to have read the original 1,200 pages and actually seen the film to make these observations. I'm not sure Mr. Rigney has done either.

  14. John H. Bintliff

    I suppose the value we place on art work now rests upon how many people attend a movie premiere. Rand's work was always conservative fantasy. So what? Heinlein and Tolkein wrote fantasy from different perspectives. Since when has great fantasy (or literature in general) been judged on its popular appeal? Film adaptations of literary fantasies are simply celluloid fantasies; expression in different form. If you've read the novel, I'd expect your comments to focus on the film's successes and failings in faithfully capturing the spirit of Rand's pen. If you'd seen the film, I'd like to hear the same. Not hearing them, I will wager you've never read her work, and may not have seen the film. Please, correct me if I am wrong. If I choose to offer my critique after seeing the film (I plan to go this weekend), you may read it or not. Your choice. But I won't take box office statistics or ad hominem attacks on the christian right as substantive criticisms.

  15. John H. Bintliff

    If I could bring the discussion back to the FILM… I've yet to see it, but must admit my disappointment in learning that the cast underwent wholesale change in the sequel. I thought Part I was engaging, but lumbered along in parts. Having read the novel, it made a valiant effort to capture the spirit of Ayn Rand's novel, but this is a herculean task. I suspect the change of cast will only place more demands on the viewer to suspend reality. (Something we must already do in what is effectively a work of fantasy). But, unlike some posting here, I believe conservatives are entitled to have escapist moments at the movie theatre. Apparently, Rand's philosophy threatens many people on the Left, without their ever really knowing why. Mr. Rigney's review reveals this, as it seems more focussed on observations having nothing to do with screenplay adaptations of original literary work. Instead we get memes and bromides about a novelist he may or may not have read, and attacks on those who get simple enjoyment from what is essentially a cliff notes version of her work.

  16. John H. Bintliff

    I agree, Ross. Just take a look at the row of links provided at the top of this thread. I mean, 'Ayn Rand connections COULD DOG PAUL RYAN IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE' puts it pretty clearly. We are behind enemy lines here, without a doubt.

  17. Martin Metz

    I read Atlas Shrugged in my 50s during evenings while on duty performing annual training at a military base. I spent my teen years doing teen stuff. I had to deal with the "real" world without the benefit of Ayn Rand. My misspent youth.

  18. John H. Bintliff

    Read The Fountainhead in college. Was in my '20's and had already foreordained my fate as an adult with Robert Heinlein and J.R.R. Tolkien as a teen. Picked up Atlas Shrugged decades later, and recently re-read it at age 58. Not sure I could re-read the Tolkien trilogy. I might pick up 'Stranger in a Strange Land' again, though.

  19. Randy Bernhoft

    Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957, it was probably a typo

  20. Adrian Luca

    @John H. Bintliff, you do know that Ayn Rand despised Christians and Christianity, right? The only criticism I've seen of the Christian right over their embrace of this film is their ignorance of its hostility to the basic tenets their religion. That's not ad hominem attack.
    Also, have you ever heard of a politician handing out copies of Lord of the Rings to his staffers, the way Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan did with Atlas Shrugged? What kind of a nut bases his political beliefs on a fantasy story about magic steel and perpetual motion engines?

  21. John H. Bintliff

    Your accusation that the Congressman has accepted the most fantastic assumptions in Rand's novel belies your political loyalties. Can we agree that such a man would have trouble operating at the most basic level in the real world? Please. And those Christian right who embrace this film may be doing so despite Rand's attitudes toward them. They are practiced at being called ignorant by others who evidently share Rand's distaste for them as a group. The Christian is also committed to forgiveness and turning the other cheek upon being insulted. Much has been made of her anti=religious stance. Curiously, this criticism comes mostly from other atheists who disagree with her view of the State as being subservient to the individual. I would avoid using the word 'hypocritical' by simply saying I see cognitive dissonance in your criticism. Do you place God over government? Or the other way around? As to handing out books to staffers, I believe Hillary Clinton received a copy of Saul Alinsky's rules for radicals while working as a staffer for Tip O'Neill during the Watergate hearings. Cong. Ryan has said he doesn't require, but recommends reading Atlas Shrugged. Politicians have ideological positions, and have every right to require their staffers share some basic agreement in that regard.

  22. Adrian Luca

    There's a reason rational people across the political spectrum read and recommend Saul Alinsky's work. Rules for Radicals is a practical tract on political activism that's based on Alinsky's real world experience. It contains incisive critiques of failed political techniques and offers alternatives that actually work.
    Atlas Shrugged is a fantasy novel written in bile, in which workers are reduced to leeches while an heir to a business empire is lauded as a superbeing.
    The only reason anyone would find anything of value in Atlas Shrugged is their need to blame someone else for their own perceived failure. It's always feels better to say "I'm a genius, but the only reason my genius is unacknowledged is that the moochers are holding me down."

  23. Tom Terrific

    I have seen both Parts I and II of Atlas Shrugged and I have read Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, The Romantic Manifesto, Capitalism-The Unknown Ideal, An Introduction to Objectivist Philosophy, Anthem and We, The Living. I have also read The Psychology of Self-Esteem, by her former lover Nathaniel Branden, as well as his The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, The Psychology of Romantic Love and at least two or three others I can't remember at this time.

    The Psychology of Self-Esteem scrambled my brain and reordered my mind and my emotions.

    And yet, I am STILL a Christian. How can that be?

    Because neither she nor Branden was never able to convince me that their atheism was essential to their philosophy.

    Rand was a complex woman with a LOT of emotional baggage. Like all of us, much of her life was spent opposing those who disagreed with her and from this she gained much of her identity. Like so many people, especially the fanatic leftists she opposed, she believed she always saw THE TRUTH in everything. From what others ought to order for breakfast to whether or not her husband should put up with her 20 year affair with a younger man (he did and so did Branden's wife, who also wrote a biography of Rand). And because she believed she clearly saw THE TRUTH, she saw every disagreement as a violent and willful attack on her personally. I was married to a woman like that for many years. I believe much of her (Rand’s and my ex-wife’s) behavior could be classified under the term Borderline Personality Disorder.

    But in case you think that's particularly damning, realize our own friends and enemies could describe any of us quite accurately using the DSM-IV. None of us knows-all or sees-all. We are all flawed creatures.

    Regarding the movie under review, I liked it. I wish I had watched the video of Part I before seeing II. Nevertheless I enjoyed much of the movie. I thought that in Part I the story and characters were much colder and harsher, more one-dimensional than in Part II and in that regard I think the Part I characters were much more accurate depictions of the characters in the book! I didn’t like them much, just as I didn’t like most of Rand’s Heroes in the book.

    The characters in Part II were much warmer and likable and I didn't get the feeling this Dagney would be willing to roast a poor moocher over a steam engine's smokestack for making her train late!

    Unlike all the reviewers, I don't think the dialogue contained ENOUGH of her philosophy. In the book, here characters are always EXPRESSING THEIR PHILOSOPHY, proclaiming, not defending, their actions and choices. Not in the movie.

    Rand once wrote that Rod Serling (creator of The Twilight Zone for younger readers) wrote the most wonderful soliloquies for his characters. Soaring, grandiose prose falling from the lips of ordinary citizens. I wish the writers of this movie had done the same. She gave them the ideas, it was their job to proclaim them on the screen. I don't think they succeeded.

    But The Fountainhead with Gary Cooper had the same problem. Rand could NOT write dialogue. Not American dialogue anyway. Not like Rod Serling, at least. Which is a terrible shame. It makes the producer’s efforts to stay “true” to the book a big mistake! Her ideas about the stalwart individual valiantly resisting being devoured by a parasitical state populated by moochers and "second-handers", aided and abetted by bootleg romanticists deserves the Serling Treatment.

    Was there no one in Hollywood, or the world for that matter, who could do those magnificent ideas justice?

    I am also afraid anyone who has not read the book (and being very much a Russian book it is not American-reader friendly), they might not be able to follow the movie because of this great lack of exposition. I found myself constantly referring to my memory of the story to explain or elaborate on what was happening on screen. Not a good thing for a movie.

    Nevertheless, I LOVED the cinematography and the music and the stunning art deco sets. I am looking forward to Part III with as much anticipation as the hobbit-lovers looked forward to The Return of the King (I was done with Tolkien after the second three hours).

    Don't expect fair reviews. That's like expecting Candy Crowley to correct Barrack Obama during a presidential debate!

  24. John H. Bintliff

    Thanks, Tom. It is refreshing to read an intelligent response to the question, 'How did you like the movie?' I hope to see it this weekend. I was unable to due to unexpected events cropping up on the premiere weekend. The lumbering effect of Part I may well have been due to poor character development and dialogue. I'm looking forward to seeing how Part II does with different cast members.

  25. Steve C. Wilson

    Since when did you Progressives start turning on Atheist too? A lot of us enjoy Rand's works while rejecting her personal life. You think we don’t know her ~ listen to her speeches and maybe you would have a better understanding? She loved capitalism, but her personal life was a mess. Try compartmentalizing; maybe then you wouldn't be so confused all the time.

  26. Bob Boren

    Adrian is just another looter. Not worth the time. I already understand progressives. Yawn.

  27. George Avant

    It is much better than about 90 Percent of the Hollywood stink bombs I have been subjected to. They want us to attend "Meet the Little Fockers" instead of "Atlas Shrugged". Pfffffff.

  28. Ms. Demeanor's Musings

    I'm not a misanthrope in the sense that I avoid people. But yes I do distrust humanity. Humans are very dangerous. It's what has happened with the brainwashing by various churches throughout history. Religion is a good way to control the population. Always has been and until we throw off the shackles of it, the cycle will continue. That being said, I'm nothing more than a stay at home mom from Kansas surrounded by right wing conservatives. And if I read a book and have to reject part of it, it's a bad book. She is no complex writer. Just bad. And fyi, every republican in the last 50 years has increased the size of govt., not reduced it. Democrats reduce the size of govt. If you would have told Lincoln what his party that fought to release a race from bondage was going to do in the future, he probably would have shot himself in the head. What a waste of good ideals. Even lifelong Republicans are leaving the party. I have only read one book by a one book pony. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Not many finer books exist and it sends a message that Rand could never comprehend. Compassion.

  29. John H. Bintliff

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion, Ms. D. I disagree, obviously. Your assessment of Rand is one thing, but I cannot fathom how you came to the conclusion that Dems reduce the size of government. I'll grant you Republicans have increased it. That is what the Tea Party is about — getting a handle on the size of government and re-establishing Lincoln's government of the people, for the people and by the people. One election cycle will not make it so. We've got a lot of scoundrels to throw out, but Mr. Big Government has got to be the first. Will you join us on November 6th?

  30. Ms. Demeanor's Musings

    I've already voted, and notwithstanding what Mr Romney tells his employees to tell people to do in the booth, my vote is mine and mine alone and subject to no ones influence in any way. IMHO, the scoundrels are House Republicans that refused to vote in a comprehensive jobs bill. Our representatives jobs are NOT to make sure we have a one term POTUS. That is the peoples job. Congress should not be a career choice nor was it intended as such. Get elected, do a good job for all of America and go back to your day job. There is an Amendment I can get behind. My vagina is my own. Planned Parenthood is necessary for future screenings of the lump in my breast so I don't die and leave my children orphaned. And I have an autistic child on SSI for therapy who the person running for the highest office in the land considers a lazy government freeloader. No thanks.

  31. John H. Bintliff

    Now that we've stated our positions, and we Rand fans have endured the insults, memes and talking points of the statist left — how do I unfollow this thread?

  32. Susan Wallace Wells

    John H. Bintliff Very well said! I saw the movie last night and was pleasantly surprised at how well it was done. Not perfect, but it kept my attention in spite of the cast changes. This film is definitely geared for a certain group of people, not everyone will 'get it', but I do! Kudos to the producers for taking on this monumental task, I am already anxiosly aaiting Part 3!

  33. Steve C. Wilson

    I went back and looked up the opening week just to check the validity of this claim.
    Atlas Shrugged II opened on 1407 screens (even in my town where AS I didn't open until week 3).
    But on that limited number of screens it took the # 11 spots and raised $1.7 million in it's opening weekend.

    Opening the same weekend was the star-studded Seven Psychopaths which was at #9 with a $4.2M weekends gross.

    So who's really kidding who here?

  34. John H. Bintliff

    I have since seen the sequel and found it much more interesting and well done than the original. The problem with putting Rand's work to film is that she is highly expository, and, though passionate in her political views, excessively prosaic. This second installment tried less to capture the romantic story of Hank Rearden and Dabney Taggart, and concentrated more on the ideological story of government regulation as it impacts the entrepreneurial spirit. I think it moved the story line much more fluently as a result. But there were also times (notably in the dialogue between D'Anconio and the moochers in the party scenes) where it seemed to be trying to 'dumb down the message' for the uninitiated viewer. Rand's works are more complex than the message of conservatism requires. As such, much of her message is lost to those who refuse to open their minds to the dangers of central governmental authority. Pretty good film, though, on balance. As conservatives, we do not need to condescend, but we do need to make our case in clear, unmistakable and unashamed language.

  35. Steve White

    MS DEMEANOR: Very true. Plus, she was a strong pro-abortionist. This makes her, does it not, an odd choice for the Party of God, pro-life Republicans like Paul Ryan to be pushing out there as the way things should be run. These men are not what they seem, nor what they present themselves as being.

    Elect them, America, at your own risk.

  36. John H. Bintliff

    This is the fatal flaw in the so-called logic of the Left. Ascribe the personal viewpoints on controversial issues to the politician's exercise of the political power bestowed upon him by a voting constituency. This, of course, is a danger when one holds Leftist positions — since they are authoritarian and elitist in nature. Truly conservative candidates respect the power of the individual over the power of the State, and are much less of a danger when elected to public office. This, is one of Rand's central points. It is also one totally lost on the Leftist scaremongers, who will personally vilify anyone who disagrees with their totally enlightened world view. But who is it that has decided just what policy should be imposed on all Americans in the areas of health insurance, fuel consumption, birth control, population control, ad infinitum? Instead, we hear that the election of Romney/Ryan will end all life on earth as we know it. Clearly, we Randians can tell the difference between fantasy and reality.

  37. Economic Freedom

    >>>>Ms. Demeanor's Musings:"Yeah. Rands' point is that there is no god. She was an Athiest."

    God, religion, and atheism, are not mentioned at all in Atlas Shrugged; neither the original 1957 novel nor the recent film adaptation.

    The main point of the book is that it is the individual human mind — not human labor — that is responsible for all social progress and increases in wealth; and that an economic and political system based on individual liberty — i.e., capitalism — is the only one which recognizes that fact by allowing it to function freely.

    Rand personally was an atheist; but it's certainly not necessary for one to be an atheist to learn a great deal from her writings.

  38. Economic Freedom

    >>>>John H. Bintliff : "I've yet to see it, but must admit my disappointment in learning that the cast underwent wholesale change in the sequel."

    The casting was better in Part 2 than in Part 1, but better casting won't save the movie. The main problems are still 1) the weak screenplay, and 2) weak directing. You can't overcome those deficits by means of better typecasting of actors who look a bit more like the characters described in the novel.

    Hard to stress this enough: screenwriting is completely different from novel writing, even if the screenplay is an adaptation of a novel. Novels can meander because a reader can put the book down for a while to think about events, or can turn back to earlier pages to review something; a screenplay is locked into sequential time, and the logic of the story has to be simple and compelling enough to cause a viewer to stare at a screen for 2 hours without boredom. The element unifying a novel is the THEME (that's why the plot can meander, if necessary); the element unifying a screenplay is CHARACTER or PLOT (with the theme being implicitly suggested by the kinds of choices made by the characters). In adapting a novel, this means that the screenwriter must omit many of the "meanderings" of the original novel, even if those meanderings are interesting; for there's simply no time in a movie to include very plot aspect of a novel. The problem with Atlas Shrugged, it appears, is that the producers and the screenwriters seem to be under the jack-boot of various philosophical compliance police such as David Kelley from the Atlas Society, who "oversee" the production (including the screenwriting) to ensure that everything is "consistent" with Ayn Rand's philosophy as expressed in the novel. Kelley is the philosophical rabbi ensuring that everything about the production is kosher. The result is that writers and director(s) have to cram into the movie every plot event and subplot event into the screenplay that appears in the novel lest they be accused of being "unfaithful" or "untrue" to the original work.

    That's completely false, and is a definite sign that the production, from beginning to end, was the work of inexperienced amateurs. I'm afraid it shows in Part 2 just as much as it showed in Part 1.

    Sadly, the producers could have made a movie of Atlas Shrugged from an earlier screenplay adaptation written by Randall Wallace, who also wrote "Braveheart" years ago. He's an excellent writer whose work always shows a great deal of passion. Wallace was able to reduce the entire novel to a single 2-hour movie. No doubt Wallace omitted many parts of the original novel, and compressed many others — the sign of an experienced writer who knows what he's doing, especially in the tricky business of adaptation. The producers seem to have ignored all of it, in favor of a more literal "transliteration" (a literal translation), mainly out of fear of being accused of "non-compliance" with Ayn Rand's philosophy.

  39. Economic Freedom

    But wasn't referring to Rotten Tomatoes. It was referring to the paying, movie-going public:

    "Director John Putch’s Atlas Shrugged: Part 2 was met with disinterest from the North American movie-going public…"

  40. Economic Freedom

    >>>>Martin Metz: "This "Randroid" will be going back for a second sitting"

    I don't think that having Martin Metz see a movie twice was the producers' idea of "box office success."

  41. Economic Freedom

    >>>>Adrian Luca : "Atlas Shrugged is a fantasy novel written in bile, in which workers are reduced to leeches while an heir to a business empire is lauded as a superbeing."

    You don't know what you're talking about, and your confident BS about the novel is itself an example of one of Alinsky's rules for radicals.

    Any one who has read Atlas Shrugged knows that most of the big businessmen described are cronies of government officials, who use government force to reap their own fortunes, hinder their competition, and, in general, maintain power over others. Conversely, the characters of Eddie Willers, Cherryl Brooks, and a number of other track workers, engineers, etc., are worthy precisely because they understand and live by the virtue of SELF-RELIANCE.

  42. Adrian Luca

    I don't see where you're going with this complaint about Seven Psychopaths. That film cost less to make than Atlas Shrugged Part II, opened on around the same number of screens as Atlas Shrugged Part II, and pulled in more than twice as much per screen as Atlas Shrugged Part II on their respective opening weekends. So far Seven Psychopaths has made around $12 million on a $15 million production investment. That's pretty mediocre, but nowhere as bad at Atlas Shrugged Part II, which will struggle to pass a $4 million box office take on a $20 million investment.
    Let's also not forget that, looking at the post-run sales of Atlas Shrugged Part I, its sequel has no real DVD, Netflix or TV sales potential, while Seven Psychopaths will probably do well in all those areas.

  43. Adrian Luca

    Did you even see the reviews for "Little Fokkers? Did you see the terrible rating it gets at Rotten Tomatoes? The same people who gave "Atlas Shrugged Part II" bad reviews did the same for "Little Fokkers". The public went to see "Little Fokkers" despite bad reviews. Atlas Shrugged Part II was given its chance to shine. It failed in the marketplace because the marketplace wasn't interested in it. Why do you hate capitalism so much?

  44. John H. Bintliff

    Thank you, E.F. Your review of the film has helped me understand why it fell somewhat flat for me. My instincts were right about mistrusting the cast changes. After all, the inconsistencies in what I assume will be a trilogy are only intensified by changing characters in midstream. After reading your review, I began to think of film adaptations of novels I have enjoyed. A favorite came to mind in Ken Kesey's 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.' (I also remembered Kesey's 'Sometimes A Great Notion). These films were very entertaining and engaging, and stayed true to Kesey's themes in his original works. I didn't get the same sense of satisfaction from viewing either of the Atlas installments. Now I know why I left the theatre last weekend wanting to have seen something more in Part II.

  45. Economic Freedom

    Yep. Cuckoo's Nest is one of the great films, and one of the reasons is that the screenwriting is so tight. (Another is that the directing by Milos Forman is so strong and imaginative . . . i.e., he doesn't have actors merely standing around, doing nothing, and talking to one another; something I noticed occurring a lot in both Parts 1 and 2 of Atlas Shrugged.) Other well done adaptations from the past might be: Gone With the Wind (it has a few problems in the last quarter of the movie, which is probably where David Selznick starting interfering a lot); Casablanca (adapted from a little-known stage play titled "Everyone Comes to Rick's" by Murray Burnett); The Shop Around the Corner (from a play by Molnar); every film by Kubrick — Paths of Glory (novel by Humphrey Cobb), Spartacus (novel by Howard Fast), Lolita (novel by Nabokov), Dr. Strangelove (novel by Peter George originally titled "Red Alert"), 2001 A Space Odyssey (short story by Arthur C. Clarke originally titled "The Sentinel"), A Clockwork Orange (novel by Anthony Burgess), Barry Lyndon (novel by William Thackeray), The Shining (novel by Stephen King), Full Metal Jacket (novel by Gustav Hasford originally titled "The Short-Timers"), and Eyes Wide Shut (originally a novella by Arthur Schnitzler). With the exception of Eyes Wide Shut, they're all good films, with a few masterpieces among them as well. And, of course, The Miracle Worker (adapted from the play by William Gibson).

  46. John H. Bintliff

    I agree with your list of successful adaptations. Milos Forman and Stanley Kubrick were masters of their art. With both 'Cuckoo's Nest' and 'Clockwork,' I recall entering the theater thinking, "How in the world will this play on the big screen?" Neither film disappointed. On the contrary, they excelled in capturing the essence of the novel they adapted. This certainly wasn't the case with the current film under discussion. Thanks for your input, EF.

  47. Economic Freedom

    "Cuckoo" had an uplifting ending; "Clockwork" had a kind of morally disturbing ending (by making the audience essentially sympathize with the character of Alex, a sociopath). But both films make very powerful impacts on viewers, intellectually and emotionally. Atlas 1 & 2 make little if any impact on viewers, neither intellectually nor emotionally . . . with the possible exception of extreme "Randroid" types, who have read the novel 6 times, and believe it is their solemn, rationally-selfish duty to see the movie and enjoy it.

    However, no one who hasn't already read the novel will understand what the heck is going on in those two films. In AS-2, for example, there's a completely pointless episode regarding James Taggart's meeting and resultant marriage to the simple working girl, Cherryl. The point of the sequence in the novel is to show what a moral monster James Taggart is, and how his governing morality of altruism (in the Randian sense) caused him to destroy a girl's psychology in order to appear to others to be "good"; how his morality of "self-sacrifice" is really a disguised way of justifying the sacrifice of others. Was any of this in the movie? No. Was there any point to having the sequence in the movie? No. A savvy editor could have cut the entire sequence from the movie, and it would not have made a bit of difference to the plotting or his characterizations. In fact, it would have improved the movie a bit by making it a little shorter, thus stepping up the pacing.

    The same can be said for the "wet nurse", named Tony in the novel, but curiously changed to "Leonard" in the movie (an obvious reference, IMHO, to Leonard Peikoff, Rand's estate executor). Anyway, the character shows up as part of the government takeover of Rearden Metal, and says little, and does nothing. There's no point to having this character in the movie at all. The excuse that "he'll play an important role in Part 3" is not a valid excuse in screenwriting: a character, once introduced, must have a "raison d'être" in the movie you're currently writing and filming, or you might as well get rid of him. A good director — one with some control over the production — would have simply written the character out of the screenplay entirely; but that wouldn't have been possible with an ideological compliance officer like David Kelley overseeing the whole production. In such a situation, the director is merely a kind of traffic director: i.e., "put the camera here; now put it here; now let's get a close-up", etc.

  48. Economic Freedom

    As you wrote above, the "prosaic" nature of the novel makes a film adaptation difficult; which I rephrase as follows: you cannot preach to the audience by having the characters make speeches. Period. Traditionally, speechifying by a character is handled in two different ways:

    1) the character can make a speech (or an extended monologue) in a situation in which there is a clear emotional/dramatic SUBTEXT occurring. That subtext — the REAL want or desire of the speechmaker vs. the REAL want or desire of his audience — is the dramatic tension that makes the scene work, and that maintains viewer interest. This doesn't mean that speech is fluff; it can be a beautifully crafted speech, full of fine thoughts. But the audience will really be responding to the UNSTATED tension beneath the speech, between the speaker and the characters listening to his speech.

    A fine example of this — which, alas, is damaged on YouTube, so I can't direct you there for the excerpt — is a beautiful, elegant monologue by Paul Newman to Piper Laurie in the 1961 film, "The Hustler." I'm sure you've seen it. The scene occurs when the two of them are having a picnic. I believe they have already become lovers, and he has had both of his thumbs broken by thugs when they discovered that he's a pool shark trying to hustle them out of their bets. The purpose of the scene, emotionally, is that Piper Laurie wants Paul Newman to commit to her emotionally; she needs to hear him say "I love you." Newman understands this, of course, but he's afraid of emotional commitment, so he detours by giving this long wonderful monologue about a different kind of commitment: that commitment a man feels for meaningful work, and the need to realize one's special talents. You might remember that scene, since it's an emotional high-point in the movie. That tension between the two of them — "I need you to tell me that you love me" vs. "Deny, deny, deny, I'm afraid to talk about that; instead, I'm going to talk about how exciting it is to be really talented at something" — is really what drives the scene and makes it compelling for a viewer to watch. They sense the tension between the two characters. And yet, the writers gave Newman some very beautiful and very true words to speak regarding the importance of meaningful work for someone with talent.

    2) the character can make a long speech to another character (and to the audience) IF that character has been established earlier as crazy (either crazy in a good sense, or crazy in an evil sense). The idea here is that the Crazy One has some sort of labyrinthine mind — sort of like an old cluttered mansion with many rooms and hallways — through which he feels the need to take his interlocutor on a kind of guided tour; i.e., "You think you understand reality? You understanding NOTHING! Let me take you into my mind and show you how I see the world! Then you will see how brilliant I am, and how ignorant you have been your entire life!"

    It's an effective screenwriting technique. Think of all the evil characters in James Bond movies who start to speechify when they've caught 007 (and that little interval, of course, gives Bond just the amount of time he needs to escape). However, one of the most brilliant examples of this kind speechifying is Ned Beatty's famous speech toward the end of "Network" ("You have meddled with the primal forces of Nature!"). The excerpt is here:

    It's fantastic, but let's face it: both the speaker and the listener have both been established as being nuts (Beatty in an evil sense; Finch in a good sense).

  49. Economic Freedom

    Now compare these two ways of handling a speech-with-an-author's-message and compare it to the clunky way in which D'Anconia's "money speech" was handled in AS-2. It was simply a literal transfer from the novel to the film (mercifully, shortened). In the hands of a creative screenwriter and/or director, who didn't have philosophical cadre officers like David Kelley overseeing every move they made, they might have been able to make the scene dramatic (as opposed to merely expository) by providing an emotional subtext between Francisco and some other character. As in "The Hustler," the speech — even if sincere, important, and meaningful — would be simply a kind of "misdirection" or "detour" by Francisco directed at his interlocutor, while the subtext would be the real goal, and therefore provide the real tension in the scene.

    In fact, we can say that the whole problem with speechifying in general — made perfectly clear by the way the "money speech" was handled in AS-2 — is that there's no GOAL TOWARD WHICH the scene moves; i.e., there's no dramatic tension pulling one way or the other. It's simply expository . . . i.e., preaching.

    I'm just inventing this at the spur of the moment, but what if, for example, D'Anconia wasn't making a speech before an entire audience in order to instruct them on a philosophical issue, but instead found himself in some nook, or side-room, with a sexy — though offensively tiresome — blonde environmental lefty wackjob. She's coming on to him, trying to get donations by an exchange "in kind" (she's heard about his playboy reputation); he can't simply slap her away, so he says things to her — perfectly true, meaningful things — about the nature of money, the nobleness of free trade, etc.? She wants to nail him (and get donations), he's resisting getting nailed by saying things he HOPES she'll find disturbing enough to leave him alone. As this is occurring, suppose Hank Rearden happens accidentally to observe this whole thing (think of the scene toward the beginning of Gone With The Wind in the library at "Twelve Oaks" where Scarlet tells Ashley that she loves him, and that he simply can't marry his own cousin, Melanie. Ashley rejects her, and in anger, Scarlet throws a ceramic vase at the fireplace in the library. In front of the fireplace, of course, is a small divan . . . on which was napping Rhett Butler, who overheard the entire exchange, and was quite amused by the whole thing). Rearden could overhear this exchange, at first, ready to condemn D'Anconia for his playboy reputation, but then hearing these fine words and being deeply affected by them.

    Or perhaps this: suppose one of the attendees to the party brought her little daughter, who is as thoroughly steeped in leftyism as her parents. Children say the darnedest things, right? Suppose she wanders over to D'Anconia and says, "You're a bad man, Mr. D'Anconia! My mommy says that money is the root of all evil, and you have lots of money!" Suppose he gently starts to instruct her on the nature of money — you can preach to children, because that's normally what adults do anyway — and, again, Rearden overhears. What if, instead of happening by a banquet table, his little speech to the young girl happens in a little side room with video equipment, set up for a speech to be projected onto a large screen in the banquet room later that evening by some Fat-Cat Washington crony? Suppose the technicians accidentally left the equipment on, so that D'Anconia's speech to the young girl was accidentally projected in front of everyone in the ballroom, which slowly begins to quiet down on hearing his words?

    There are lots of possibilities that would still get Rand's message across regarding money via the mouth of D'Anconia, but which avoids the direct preaching and speechifying of a character to a group of other adult characters (and, by implication, the audience).

    I sort of like the idea of a D'Anconia speaking to a child because it avoids him having to make a speech to a crowd of adults for no dramatic reason whatsoever, and it adds a gentle trait to his character: he likes children, who, in turn, learn to like him as their intellects are awakened.

    Good, bad, or indifferent, this is the sort of thinking that a screenwriter and a director ought to be doing on a film production, especially an adaptation from a novel; but it's the kind of creative thinking that was choked off from the start in Atlas Shrugged 1 & 2 by the self-imposed requirement to follow every aspect of the book literally.

  50. John H. Bintliff

    I've taken far too much time reading (with great enjoyment) your treatise, EF. I suspect you might be involved in some aspect of the film industry. Just a quick reply to your 'speechifying' examples, as I have precious little time to ready for work this a.m. Example one would be Col. Jessup's speech in 'A Few Good Men;; i.e., tension between characters. And maybe another would be the exchanges between the Coach and Barbara Hershey's character in 'Hoosiers.' The crazy character of Shooter gets an upbraiding from the Coach on his drinking habits as well. These are riveting dialogue, but, if taken out of context might be a great deal less effective. Of course, the power of the actors involved in speaking the words has its own additional impact. But I think I get your basic point about the subtext created by character relationships and identities.

  51. Buddy Lott

    I assume the critics wanted the message Ayn Rand was sending to change. That would be alot like changing history. It should not be done. I find that is a litmus test for Hollywood. Change or for get it. Be like us or you are toast in t.
    his industry. Ayn's message was a good message. The uncomfortable thing is history is reflecting the face of that message. It could be argued it is transpiring. I enjoyed Part 1, so I must obviously be in a minority, with respect to the importance of the message.

  52. Anonymous

    I wanted to see this movie, but I guess if I intend to do so I'll have to buy it. Seeing this installment is even harder than the first one, where I had to go to an obscure and out of the way independent theater to do so.

    Guess censorship won this round. Way to go, Hollywood.

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