'Atlas Shrugged': The First Tea Party Movie?

More terrific reporting from the Hollywood Reporter:

About 9 million adults are active Tea Partiers, and 45 million support the movement, a CBS/New York Times poll says.

Atlas Shrugged, a novel in which society’s most productive citizens choose to disappear, was published in 1957, and filmmakers have spent nearly every year since trying to adapt it. They finally succeeded, and the first part of what’s planned as a trilogy comes out April 15. If you didn’t know that, it’s likely you’re not a member of the Tea Party.

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It was probably only a matter of time before Hollywood tried tapping the e-mail lists and social networks of the giant political movement, as distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures and filmmakers including co-producer Harmon Kaslow have for Atlas Shrugged: Part 1.

Despite years of cinematic interest and high hopes for stars and funding, the film was made for less than $10 million, with Taylor Schilling — who appeared on NBC’s short-lived Mercy — playing protagonist Dagny Taggart.

By Hollywood standards, the marketing budget is tiny, so word-of-mouth from Tea Partiers sympathetic to the film’s message is crucial to its success.

The film is also the perfect test case to see whether such an effort can work because Ayn Rand’s novel extols free markets and entrepreneurialism and excoriates government coercion and overtaxation, values that unite Tea Partiers. In fact, rallies invariably feature signs that mimic the book’s opening line: “Who Is John Galt?” Another common sign at Tea Party rallies asks, “Is Atlas Shrugging?” If Hollywood can’t persuade this demographic to support Atlas, it might as well write off the Tea Party as a marketing source.

About 9 million adults are active Tea Partiers, and 45 million support the movement, a CBS/New York Times poll says. The makers of Atlas have been working to get organizers to insert mentions of the film into the millions of e-mails that go out to the faithful, and Tea Partiers have obliged. Many have also attended screenings and are satisfied that the movie adheres to Rand’s principles of objectivism, individualism and self-responsibility.

One recent e-mail to Tea Partiers in California, for example, alerted members of upcoming Freedom Rallies. But it also included a link to the movie’s trailer, the name of the local theater that has booked the film and the line, “Mark your calendars for a celebration of capitalism.”

Full piece here. A must-read.

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