The “Atlas Shrugged” films were designed to celebrate Ayn Rand’s core political philosophies, says franchise producer Harmon Kaslow.
What Kaslow couldn’t foresee as the second film in the franchise nears its release date is the GOP nominating Rand enthusiast Paul Ryan for its Vice Presidential slot and an anti-Obama documentary shattering box office records.
Kaslow predicts “Atlas Shrugged: Part II,” set for an Oct. 12 release, will get an added boost from those two factors. It won’t hurt that trailers for the film will be playing before screenings of “2016” starting this weekend.
A quick peek at that trailer shows the story’s key themes, from the economy to energy, overlap neatly with the current dialogue in the presidential race.
“The film plays right into the debate,” Kaslow tells Big Hollywood.
“Part II” finds franchise heroine Dagny Taggart (Samantha Mathis stepping in for Taylor Schilling) battling back against government intrusions on wages, copyrights and other essential elements of a free society.
The first film drew withering reviews from critics, who generally lean left or are openly progressive. Yet the movie hauled in $4.6 million during its theatrical run, a respectable sum for an independent film.
The grosses for “Part II” could be much higher given the current political climate.
Movies like “2016” prove a segment of the movie-going public is not being served by Hollywood, he says. “Atlas Shrugged” had the luxury of a massively popular book tie-in, while “2016” had to “create its own awareness,” he says.
“Kudos to those guys for pulling off and platforming the film out of obscurity,” he says. “It’s an incredible feat.”
“2016” started in just one movie house and slowly expanded its theater count to its current tally of about 1,700 screens. “Atlas Shrugged: Part II” will begin with close to 500 screens and hopefully expand from there, Kaslow says. Theatrical exhibitors told Kaslow they underestimated interest in films with a conservative-leaning message.
Kaslow, who calls “Part I” an overwhelming success from Hollywood’s point of view given the production and marketing costs, says Hollywood will be watching what happens with “Part II” “very closely.”
“If we have some success, Hollywood may recognize there’s a large audience who believes in the messages in these films,” he says. “Maybe they should include one or two of them in their slates so they don’t leave money on the table.”
Kaslow makes no bones about the film’s release timing – less than one month before the presidential election.
“What a fabulous opportunity that we have to get like-minded people into a theater Oct. 12, to celebrate Ayn Rand’s ideas,” he says.
“Not all of them embrace [Rand’s] message on political grounds. Some are very political, some aren’t. Some are on the Left, some are on the Right,” he says.
Kaslow says audiences not familiar with Rand’s iconic work, or the first film, won’t find themselves lost while watching “Part II.”
“The movie stands alone,” he promises.
Follow Christian Toto on Twitter @TotoMovies