Atlas Shrugged Trilogy To Continue

After it opened to dismal reviews and poor box office returns, Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 looked to be the first and only film in the potential trilogy to get made. Now, 24 Frames reports that producer and scriptwriter John Aglialoro will go ahead with parts 2 and 3, thanks to a home-entertainment distribution deal struck with 20th Century Fox.

The film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s iconic novel of free markets and individualism was something of a personal mission for Aglialoro. He dealt with plenty of obstacles to get Part 1 made, financing the pic himself after buying the rights from Rand’s heir in 1992 for $1.1 million. After its theatrical release earlier this year, and the critical response, Aglialoro was thinking twice about going ahead with the next two installments.

Now that this distribution deal with Fox has been made, Aglialoro is moving forward with the rest of the trilogy, and production on Atlas Shrugged Part 2 is expected to begin in September. Co-producer Harmon Kaslow said that Aglialoro will be using the revenue from the first part to help finance the second part. And not only will Part 2 and Part 3 have limited theatrical releases, they’ll have “studio level” support.

Kaslow said that he and Aglialoro are retaining the home entertainment rights to the franchise, but are paying Fox a distribution fee in a deal “born of strategy, not necessity.” Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 will be released on DVD/Blu-Ray, digital download and VOD this fall.

Filmmakers hope to have Atlas Shrugged: Part 2 ready for a limited theatrical release just in time for the 2012 election cycle. And now that they have a deal with Fox, any possible negative critical reviews of Part 2 might roll off Aglialoro’s back a little easier.

According to Kaslow, Aglialoro “has a much clearer perspective. He’s always wanted to have a studio level support for the film and I think feels that his effort in producing Part 1 has been validated by having the largest home video distributor in America aboard.”

News circulated before the release of Part 1 that Kaslow and Aglialoro were using a grass roots approach to marketing and promoting their film. They tapped into the Tea Party movement, which shares many of the pro-capitalist and free enterprise themes of Rand’s seminal novel. Since Aglialoro financed the production, distribution and marketing of Part 1 himself, news of a potential studio-backed sequel might mean a better film.

Here’s what Kaslow had to say about it:

What we discovered with the film is that it really doesn’t fit squarely into a lot of business models. We got incredible grass roots and community level support for the movie, but what we didn’t have was the polished marketing edge that the studios have perfected. Now we get to use their marketing, their fulfillment capacity. We think that makes more sense for us than mortgaging those rights off for a number.

John appreciates the autonomy that came with spending his own money and doing his own theatrical release, but he realizes that the motion picture business is especially challenging and there are a number of things studios do better than anybody else.

I hope “studio level” support translates into higher production values and a sleeker film than the first one. As I mentioned in my review, Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 was true to the source material, but felt dated and rather lifeless. Hopefully they can do a better job with Part 2.