Fans of ‘Atlas Shrugged: Part 1′ will have a decision to make while shopping for the home version of Ayn Rand’s timeless saga.
They can opt for a standard Blu-ray or DVD copy sold at brick and mortar stores starting Nov. 8. Or, they can sample one of three special editions.
Those ponying up for the Reason Foundation version of ‘Shrugged’ get exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. The FreedomWorks edition includes video clips matching modern political sound bites with dialogue from the movie. The Atlas Society version comes with footage from the film’s April 14 premiere as well as video commentaries by David Kelley.
“It allows various groups to put their own content on the DVD,” says ‘Shrugged’ producer Harmon Kaslow of the film’s unique home video rollout.
‘Atlas Shrugged: Part 1,’ based on Rand’s influential political fiction, tells the story of a determined businesswoman (Taylor Schilling) fighting back against government overreach and the disappearance of the world’s premier industrialists.
So far, Rand devotees aren’t just scooping up the film. Kaslow says pre-orders are averaging about $40 per purchase, meaning customers are also investing in the film’s soundtrack, the metal bracelet worn by Schilling in the film and other ‘Shrugged’ merchandise.
“We’re not being distributed by a studio, so we don’t have the same fears [they might],” he says of their eclectic approach to sales and marketing. “We feel very confident about our brand. It has a lot of meaning behind it.”
The biggest question surrounding the first chapter in the proposed trilogy is whether audiences will ever see a Part 2 … let alone a Part 3.
Kaslow admits the team behind ‘Atlas Shrugged: Part 1′ sent plenty of mixed messages about the future of the franchise. Now, they’ve agreed to start working on ‘Part 2′ early in the new year. But the faces from the next ‘Shrugged’ may be unfamiliar to fans of the original.
“There are something like 41 speaking roles [in ‘Part 1′]. Logistically, it’s nearly impossible to get everyone [in the cast] back,” he says, particularly given the strict production window. Kaslow wants the film to hit theaters in October 2012 – roughly a month before the presidential election. And he isn’t evasive about the reasons for the release date, unlike some Hollywood producers promoting left-of-center fare.
“The movie will be an opportunity to experience what they’ve read [in the book] and to bring their neighbor in for some healthy discussions,” he says.
Kaslow admits the team behind ‘Shrugged’ made some mistakes during the run up to the first film’s theatrical debut.
“We chose a very tough date to come out and didn’t give ourselves a lot of time to run trailers and create the [necessary] level of awareness,” he says. ‘Part 2′ will be accompanied by a more aggressive traditional media push and hit theaters at the peak of the political season.
Kaslow is diplomatic when asked if film critics treated ‘Part 1′ fairly. The film currently has a 13 percent ‘Rotten’ rating over at rottentomatoes.com, a popular film review aggregator.
“The successes and failures of ‘Part 1′ are entirely on us,” he says. “We’re extremely proud of what we did … we did what everyone said was impossible, we made ‘Atlas Shrugged’ into a movie.”
Kaslow says his team hasn’t even discussed the details of a third and final ‘Atlas Shrugged’ feature – yet. But he admires how the project’s visionary, fellow producer John Aglialoro, is taking inspiration from Rand’s teachings.
“[Aglialoro] spent nearly 20 years to bring the film to the big screen,” Kaslow says. “He controls his own destiny, and that’s really falling within the themes of the book.”