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Posted by on May 5, 2011 in Business, TG Roundup

The Free Markets Have Spoken: Atlas Shrugged was, Well, Shrugged!

Ever since my lively debate on “Free Markets” with my good friend Chakravarthy about a year ago on my show, Chakravarthy and I have been exchanging good-natured jabs at each other on our political and economic beliefs. While Chakravarthy and I are staunch supporters of Telugu unity and students of Telugu history and culture, we disagree on almost all things political and economic. Perhaps our biggest disagreement comes with respect to Ayn Rand. I believe that Ayn Rand is a terrific fiction writer who has a cult-following. She is a champion of laissez-faire economics where regulation-free “free markets” bring economic utopia. Innovators and risk-takers create products, market them and create wealth yada yada.

I started writing a long note about why I think Ayn Rand’s ideas are completely crazy and how Alan Greenspan’s implementation of Rand’s ideas has proved to the world that there is no such thing as a free-market, and that self regulating markets don’t exist (even he admitted that in a congressional testimony).  I will do it another time. I will also post a link to our debate soon. But, for the time being, I want to show some evidence to prove my point. [And do an end-zone dance! :)]

Free-markets or not, one can safely assume that a lousy idea makes a lousy movie. And a lousy movie can be expected to be flop at the box office, right?

Atlas Shrugged: Part 1

(Sorry Randians: The producer says there will be no Part 2 or 3)

Domestic Total as of May. 4, 2011: $4,091,404
Distributor: Rocky Mountain Pictures Release Date: April 15, 2011
Genre: Drama Runtime: 1 hrs. 42 min.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Production Budget: $20 million

On a side note, I contributed about $10 to that box office total by encouraging my teenage son to go see that movie! 🙂

In my debate with Chakravarthy I said, “In the free markets of ideas,  the Ayn Rand version of “Free Markets” have already lost. Here is the kicker –  the complete humiliation of Atlas Shrugged at the box office proves that point I made in our debate.

And now for my end-zone dance, please watch Colbert’s review of Atlas Shrugged. 🙂



  1. Mohan garu- I am sorry, but I fear your argument is built on a very weak foundation. A good script is a necessary condition for a movie to be a success. However, a good script doesn’t guarantee a movie’s success, as there are many other factors that come into a play. Using your own logic, could you explain why the book sold over 7 million copies?

    My understanding is that the producer of the movie was soon going to lose his rights to the script unless he made the movie. Initial cast considered for the movie included Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Angalina Jolie etc. However, apparently the producer did a bad job in putting a good team together and the big actors developed cold feet and backed off. FYI, many objectivists themselves don’t like the movie. So, the free market deservedly punished the bad product. Atlas Shrugged is not an easy movie to make.

    • Ahaa… You took my bait. I know, my explanation is overly simplistic. See, you agree that the success or failure of one movie is so complex. At the same breadth – you simplify the human behavior in such a way everybody pursues their self …interest and government stays out everything will be hunky-dory!

      Nothing in this world is that simple. There is always a bias in the way people interpret things. Nothing is black and white in this world. True believers in communism would say Soviets implemented it incorrectly and hence it failed. True believers in Rabd philosophy throw Greenspan under the bus and say he implemented it incorrectly.

      If only you are given another chance….. right?

      Sure, 7 million copies of the book may have been sold. Even people like me who don’t believe in her ideology read it. In one sense, numbers are not really an indicator. After all, even crazy Beck had 5 million viewers at his peak. 🙂