The Looters Win Again

As we all know, Ayn Rand is the greatest genius in the history of the human race, and her book Atlas Shrugged is her highest achievement and therefore the highest achievement of our entire species. Thanks to her, we’ve learned that sheer determination can surmount any obstacle, up to and including the laws of thermodynamics, to create value and earn its bearer a profit. All of which makes it inexplicable that her magnum opus is bombing at the box office:

Twelve days after opening “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1,” the producer of the Ayn Rand adaptation said Tuesday that he is reconsidering his plans to make Parts 2 and 3 because of scathing reviews and flagging box office returns for the film…

“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 box office dropped off 47% in the film’s second week in release even as “Atlas Shrugged” expanded to 425 screens.

John Aglialoro, CEO of the exercise equipment company Cybex, spent almost 20 years and $20 million of his own money making this movie. He advertised it heavily to conservative audiences, including showing a world premiere of the trailer at the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year. But despite the dauntless labor of this heroic capitalist individual, the movie turned out to be a flop, grossing only $3 million so far and getting panned even by such free-market stalwarts as the Wall Street Journal and Reason. There’s an obligatory hilarious quote from an earlier Reason article, whose author can’t quite keep the disappointment from shining through: he writes that Taylor Schilling, the actress who plays Dagny Taggart, “sometimes seemed too much like a normal human being for a Randian romantic heroine”.

In an interview, Aglialoro was not at all bitter:

“Why should I put up all of that money if the critics are coming in like lemmings?” said Aglialoro… “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.”

Wait – he wants to see his grandchildren? What kind of moocher socialist talk is this? There’s no purpose to interacting with other human beings if it doesn’t earn you a profit. Faithful Randians know that the correct way of dealing with your offspring is to put them to work in a coal mine as soon as they turn twelve, as demonstrated by Ken Danagger, one of the capitalist titans of Atlas Shrugged.

Alas, just as in the world of Atlas, the heroic ambitions of a noble soul like Aglialoro have been laid low by the worthless, parasitic looters who make up the majority of humanity, and who doubtless refused to pay to see his movie because they despise the accomplishments of productive people. Or could it just be that Objectivists aren’t nearly as numerous as they make themselves seem through sheer clamor and volume? In either case, I’d advise him to consider retiring and moving to Galt’s Gulch, where his talents will be appreciated. I hear that despite their hologram projectors and perpetual motion machines, they could really use someone there who knows how to manufacture free weights.

SF/F Saturday: The Culture
What Is the Economy For, Anyway?
If John Galt Invented the Internet
Atlas Shrugged: Kill the Redshirts
About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Arc of Fire, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.