'Atlas Shrugged' the movie: Dismal failure or cult hit?

The box office numbers are in, but commentators still can't decide whether the Tea Party-hyped Ayn Rand adaptation is a success

"Atlas Shrugged: Part 1" found some early success when it opened last Friday on just 300 screens, but many critics say it can't reach beyond its niche fan base.
(Image credit: atlasshruggedpart1.com)

Atlas Shrugged: Part I, the first cinematic adaptation of Ayn Rand's objectivist tome, opened last weekend to mostly negative reviews, and earned $1.6 million at the box office on about 300 screens. Depending on whom you ask, that's either a surprise win for what’s been called "the first Tea Party movie," or an abysmal failure. Which is it?

It did well for a little indie: Given that it only cost around $10 million to make and had very little traditional advertising promoting it, Atlas Shrugged: Part I's debut can be seen a "modest success," says Amy Kaufman in The Baltimore Sun. "The movie found an audience in certain parts of the country," especially Duluth, Ga., where it took in $53,832 on Friday and Saturday alone. Next weekend, the film's release expands to 1,000 theaters. Let's see how it does.

"Atlas Shrugged: Part I and The Conspirator have decent first weekends"

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Considering the Tea Party hype, this is a letdown: "For a pure independent release," Atlas Shrugged: Part I's opening was fine, says Brandon Gray at Box Office Mojo. "But for the first-ever adaptation of Ayn Rand's influential mega-selling 1957 novel that had far more media hype than any other independent movie could dream of, it was disappointing." The film had the support of the conservative media, but it seems that "by jumping on the Tea Party bandwagon, the movie was ghettoized." The filmmakers should have focused less on politics and more on story and deeper themes when promoting the movie. "Didactics alone don't carry the day."

"Atlas Shrugged: Part I' derails?"

And, it's unlikely to find a wider audience: "The film's performance shows that it is unlikely to find much of an audience outside of the Tea Party," says Dorothy Pomerantz in Forbes. Yes, the film's $5,600 per-screen average was respectable, but the reviews have been "devastating." Once die-hard Tea Partiers and Rand fans have seen it, who's left?

"Atlas Shrugged ranks 14th. Conspiracy or just a bad movie?"

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