My esteemed colleague Kyle Smith may not qualify as a box-office Nostradamus (“I smell a hit,” he once wrote of “An American Carol”) but he was certainly on the mark in predicting that “Atlas Shrugged — Part One” would flop in his Sunday column a couple of weeks ago.
After a middling performance during its opening weekend that was hyped in some quarters (i.e., The Hollywood Reporter), the per-screen average for this amateurish Ayn Rand adaptation (even Kyle could only muster 2.5 stars’ worth of enthusiam for the movie, though he liked its message) plunged to an alarming $1,890 from $5,640 during its opening frame. Overall, the weekend’s take was a scant $879,000 — a whopping 48 percent drop despite adding 166 locations. Which certainly suggest they’re running out of audience quick.
That means that at some locations, distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures will be writing checks to theaters to cover the difference between receipts and operating expenses. The only way they’re likely to get the 1,000 screens the producers say they want next weekend is to rent them. And, as Kyle put it at his personal blog, “Whether the sequels get made is purely a matter of how much desire the producers have for losing money.”