'Atlas Shrugged' Producers Will Fund Final Movie Of Trilogy With The Most Ironic Kickstarter Campaign Ever

09/24/2013 11:40 am ET | Updated Sep 25, 2013

The producers of the wildly unpopular "Atlas Shrugged" trilogy of movies have had a rough going at the hands of the free market, with the first two movies failing to recoup their cost at the box office. But having produced a pair of critically drubbed, poorly attended box office turkeys, they're bound and determined to crap out one more, and so "Atlas Shrugged, Part Three: The Shruggening" is set for a hopeful release date of July 4, 2014. And in an ironic twist, they are asking for handouts on Kickstarter.

The A.V. Club's Sean O'Neal has the skinny:

In an effort to further Ayn Rand’s message critiquing altruism and promoting the virtue of selfishness, rejecting all moochers who would dare claim your money by tears, the producers of the third Atlas Shrugged movie have launched a Kickstarter campaign asking for donations, predicated on reminding supporters of the critics who have hurt it. As reported earlier this year, despite the free market repeatedly determining it would rather not have any Atlas Shrugged movies, producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro boldly refused to relinquish their rational self-interests to a world that would dare take their ideas from them, chiefly by not paying to see them. And because of their indefatigable commitment to film Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt? by the fall — and thus propagate its titular character’s manifesto to “never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine” — Kaslow and Aglialoro have turned to asking other men to give them $250,000.

One of the enduring mysteries of this whole enterprise is why these filmmakers opted to bring Atlas Shrugged to movie theaters in the form of a trilogy. After all, one of the few virtues of Rand's prose is how eminently edit-able it is, with pages and pages of dross ripe for the cutting. King Vidor managed to trim Rand's 700-plus pages tome The Fountainhead down to 114 minutes of movie back in 1949, and while the end result is still largely ridiculous, it is, at the very least, over very quickly. The Gary Cooper vehicle was endorsed by Rand herself, and it came within $400,000 of recouping its cost.

The trilogy concept is even more perplexing when you consider the fact that the climactic moment in Atlas Shrugged -- insofar as it can be called a "climax" -- is an epic rant from John Galt that goes on and on and on for some 70-odd pages. As a thought exercise, take out a piece of paper and make a list of all the people who you would happily sit and watch warble at you, on any topic, for 70 pages. I'll give you a minute to think about it.

There, you see the zero names on the list you have created? That is what the producers of "Atlas Shrugged, Part Three" are up against.

Spoiler alert, the key line of Galt's rant is this: "I swear -- by my life and my love of it -- that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." Which raises the question: "So, Kickstarter, then?" The film's producers have anticipated this:

Isn't asking for charity antithetical to Ayn Rand's philosophy?

Ayn Rand had no problem with someone giving money to a cause they care about. If someone deems a cause worthy and wants to donate money, they should be free to do it. What Ayn Rand had a problem with is altruism for the sake of altruism as a moral duty, or being compelled, or forced, to "give." The Atlas Shrugged Kickstarter campaign is of course a voluntary value-for-value exchange. You are not obligated to contribute.

"The fact that a man has no claim on others (i.e., that it is not their moral duty to help him and that he cannot demand their help as his right) does not preclude or prohibit good will among men and does not make it immoral to offer or to accept voluntary, non-sacrificial assistance." - Ayn Rand

So, this is the good kind of asking for a handout. You know, the kind that comes when your first two movies don't provide you with the $250,000 you need to make the third. But there are rewards to be had for the givers -- from PDFs of the final shooting script (for $15) to the chance to be an extra (no mention of pay; must furnish own travel and accommodations) in the movie ($5000).

A lucky few, who donate $10,000 to the cause, will get a ticket to the premiere, though for some reason the supplies of these free tickets are limited to 10 people, only five of which are left. As "empty seats in movie theaters" are the one commodity these movies have managed to mass produce, the decision to cap the highest level of beneficence in this manner seems puzzling. Then again, altruism was never this crowd's strong suit.

Still, you might as well donate away, if you want to see the third installment. We are obviously well past rational self-interest here.

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