So with the news that Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 is underperforming and leaving theaters rather than expanding, it’s unclear whether producer John Aglialoro will be able to produce the planned sequels for the adaptation of Ayn Rand’s most famous and controversial work. Name recognition from one of the bestselling books of the past century, still a chart-topper due its appeal to libertarians and limited-government advocates, wasn’t a strong enough draw to earn back even half of its $20 million production budget so far, and this raises a lot of questions for those who rooted for the film. What does this mean for conservatives and fans of Rand?
Obviously, it means everything we’ve ever believed is absolutely wrong.
The free market just doesn’t work. Every conservative really is a secret dog-whistle racist. America is no more exceptional than North Korea. The earth really is barreling towards cataclysmic destruction because of you air conditioner. True equality and justice comes from redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor. Wait–
Redistribution of wealth? Lucky for Aglialoro and his partner at Atlas Films, Harmon Kaslow, they’re located smack dab in the middle of millionaire country; and Los Angeles’s rich filmmakers all agree that redistribution of wealth is the right path for America! So, here is my plea to some of Tinseltown’s most beloved left-wing filmmakers. We’ve seen the light, and now we need your help.
Aaron Sorkin: Your screenplay for The Social Network, a deconstruction of a modern-day captain of industry, was a runaway hit. It more than recouped its $40 million production budget with a global take of over $200 million. Surely you can spare 50% of your Social Network royalties for a struggling production company for whom the free market has failed. Oh, I see; you’d resist because Atlas Shrugged doesn’t deserve this money, right? The writing was stilted and didactic? It skimped on marketing? That, Mr. Sorkin, is what we call blaming the victim. These hard-working people, who put their heart and soul into this film, are like an innocent Alaskan caribou shot and butchered by apathetic moviegoers– witless bullies destroying the potential to finish a historically important film adaptation. Mr. Sorkin, surely you have the moral courage to take a stand against this injustice, to give your hard-earned money to those less fortunate artists, cruelly maimed by the dog-eat-dog world of capitalism.
James Cameron: What more is there to say about the success of Avatar? Yeah, you may have only surpassed the gross of Titanic by jacking up ticket prices, packaging them with little plastic sunglasses, but by gum, you surpassed Titanic, almost earning $3 billion. Now, at the very least, you can help offset the carbon footprint of your film, its DVD sales (remember, DVDs are wasteful), and Atlas Shrugged’s production.
Now, I know this is a touchy subject, but I think it’s a great opportunity for you. We’re quickly coming up on the five-year anniversary of Al Gore stating we only have 10 years to prevent a “tipping point” in our climate’s destruction. Since then, the only thing Al’s cut back on is his number of wives, and things aren’t looking so great for your own efforts against nothing less than the destruction of worldwide ecosystems. This is a crucial moment, Jim; this is your chance to turn the tide. Do you really need the money from DVD sales of your films? Please, Mr. Cameron, stand in solidarity with endangered species and donate 100% of this year’s royalties to Atlas Productions on the condition that 25% of them will be used for carbon credits. You’ve had a taste of the thanks you can receive from the world’s indigenous populations; why would you hold onto transient wealth and prevent yourself from receiving this thanks from the very fauna and flora of the Earth? Remember, you can’t take it with you, Jim. Not even the submarines.
Adam McKay: Surely, sir, you see how the example of Atlas Films versus your own Gary Sanchez Productions is a textbook example of income disparity– the same disparity you handily reminded us of in the infographic credit sequence of your blockbuster hit The Other Guys, which cost $100 million to make and grossed $170 million worldwide. That and your three previous films have all been profitable because you found ways to repackage Will Ferrell’s schtick in wildly different settings and situations, attracting a large, enthusiastic audience and making you a very, very, very, very, very, very, very rich man. You’ve stated in the past that executives in other industries make too much money and should keep less of it for the good of everyone.
So, let’s review some economic facts here (I can’t afford to hire animators for an infographic): your theatrical films alone have earned a collective $453,190,451 in box office receipts, though their production budgets only add up to an estimated $263,500,000. That’s $189, 690,451 in profit, a profit margin of almost 42% (obviously those figures don’t include marketing costs, but they also don’t factor in DVD sales or money from product placement through multinational corporations). Atlas Shrugs still hasn’t recouped $15,659,145 of its production budget after a month in theaters. That loss could be covered by 8.2% of the profits of your films (and this isn’t counting the profits of Funny or Die or your income as head writer of Saturday Night Live).
Now, obviously, the lion’s share of that money goes to the production companies who fund your theatrical films, so I have no idea how much of this money is actually yours. But I still have no doubt that you could fill the deficit of Atlas; at the very least, you could convince your good friend and collaborator Will Ferrell to donate that much from the $20 million he demands per film, leaving him with $4,340,855 to live on until his next project– a sum that many Americans would kill to earn for a few months of work. If that’s too unreasonable, surely you have enough millionaire friends that 16 of you could donate just under a million dollars for those whom the free market has forsaken? Or are we gonna have to introduce more strenuous regulations to counteract your greed?
The Rest of Hollywood: Should these men fail to abandon capitalistic avarice and refuse to help out peers in need, this is an open call to make President Barack Obama proud of you and spread the wealth around. Remember, you pledged.
¹ They were actually already down.