Today is the 62 year anniversary publication of Ayn Rand’s seminal work, Atlas Shrugged. An epic tale spanning over 1,000 pages, it tells the story of railroad executive Dagny Taggart and steel magnate Hank Rearden as they search for the mysterious John Galt, a man persuading the most powerful businessmen in the world to “strike” against the dystopian government that is imposing burdensome regulations on their private businesses in the hopes of creating a true capitalist society.
Atlas Shrugged serves as Rand’s most explicit advertisement of her philosophy of Objectivism, a movement she founded based around the concepts of objective reality and individualism. Though the novel wasn’t very well-received during its publication in 1957, the book has sold well over the years and has become very popular with libertarian and conservative politicians who have endorsed Rand’s philosophy.
Naturally, an adaptation was bound to happen, with talks of a mini-series as early as the 1970s. After several years of failed attempts, a film adaptation began production in 2010. Featuring Taylor Schilling (Orange Is The New Black) as lead Dagny, Atlas Shrugged: Part I was promoted heavily by libertarian politicians and Fox News personalities up until its release in April 2011.
Unfortunately, the film was panned by critics for its low production value, badly written dialogue, and failure to translate Rand’s ideas properly on-screen—though audience reception was a little more positive. The film was also a financial failure, grossing only $5 million against a $20 million budget. This was attributed to the fact that the film wasn’t advertised outside of its mainly conservative audience, leading to its failure to break out from its already limited release.
Despite this setback, a sequel was still made. Neither Schilling nor any of the original cast members, as well as the director, returned and production had its budget slashed to $10 million. Atlas Shrugged: Part II was filmed, edited, and released in October 2012 so it can coincide with the 2012 election, even going as far as to feature Fox News personalities playing themselves. The sequel didn’t fare well either, getting even worse reviews and grossing only $3 million and losing more money.
Which brings us to the final film, Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt, released in 2014. Much like the first two, this film features an entirely new cast playing the same characters, as well as a new director, and featured Fox News anchors and conservative politicians playing themselves. And just like the first two films, reviews were universally negative and the film was a box office failure, only making $800,000 dollars with a $5 million budget. Part III joined a small list of films that have a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
It’s pretty crazy that a book as influential and controversial as Atlas Shrugged could produce a film series so bad and easily forgotten as this one. You can watch the trailers for all three films here and see for yourself:
Featured Image Via Medium