"Critics, you won," said John Aglialoro, the businessman who spent 18 years and more than $20 million of his own money to make, distribute and market "Atlas Shrugged: Part 1," which covers the first third of Rand's dystopian novel. "I'm having deep second thoughts on why I should do Part 2."
"Atlas Shrugged" was the top-grossing limited release in its opening weekend, generating $1.7 million on 299 screens and earning a respectable $5,640 per screen. But the the box office dropped off 47% in the film's second week in release even as "Atlas Shrugged" expanded to 425 screens, and the movie seemed to hold little appeal for audiences beyond the core group of Rand fans to whom it was marketed.Ranked by Forbes Small Business as the 10th richest executive of any small publicly traded company in 2007, John Aglialoro has reportedly spent $20 million over the past two decades working to make Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged into a big screen trilogy. Aglialoro told the Daily Caller that he bought the Atlas movie rights from Leonard Peikoff in 1992. When the Caller asked about Aglialoro's expectations for the film's reception, he replied:
[I]t’s not so much what I think . . . it’s more important what people think who I respect and know the project well. After the showing on Thursday, I walked over to Nathaniel Branden and also Barbara Branden was there and she saw it, and I was going to ask them what they thought, which meant a lot to me. Before I could ask for their question, I saw tears in their eyes, so I knew that I didn’t have to ask the question.Much of Rand's objectivist philosophy centers around what's worth the protagonist's attention -- in an earlier novel, her main character delivers an oft-quoted insult like a slap in the face: I don't think of you. Despite his professed focus on opinions from his inner circle, Aglialoro sounds distinctly sensitive to that highest Randian insult, even from an intellectual unfriendly: "The New York Times gave us the most hateful review of all," Aglialoro told the . "They didn't cover it." Aglialoro finished the LAT interview saying: "I'll make my money back and I'll make a profit, but do I wanna go and do two? Maybe I just wanna see my grandkids and go on strike." Labeling critics "lemmings" and then going Galt? Forget the Atlas flop -- congratulations, John Aglialoro, you have duly purchased your spot as objectivism's true intellectual heir.