Anyone tempted to declare the weekend box office grosses of the Atlas Shrugged movie should take it up with the folks at Box Office Mojo:
For a pure independent release, Atlas Shrugged: Part I's opening was fine. But for the first-ever adaptation of Ayn Rand's influential mega-selling 1957 novel that had far more media hype than any other independent movie could dream of, it was disappointing.
There aren't many direct comparisons, because it's rare that an adaptation of such a famous book gets such a modest release. Atlas Shrugged: Part I opened higher than recent limited Christian movies The Grace Card and To Save a Life, and it was distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures' third highest-grossing launch, behind End of the Spear and Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. But none of those movies are significant in the grand scheme of things. They're all still blips, even if Atlas was a slightly bigger blip than many.
What's more, Atlas Shrugged: Part I's box office dropped six percent from Friday to Saturday, further indicating niche appeal. The movie would require exceptional holds moving forward to right its course.
... Didactics alone don't carry the day. To the uninitiated (and to many of the initiated), Atlas Shrugged: Part I looked stilted, esoteric and cheap in its marketing....
Boosters of Atlas Shrugged: Part I might point to the movie's per theater average to spin it as a success (ex. "it did almost as much per theater as Scream 4!"), but spin is all it is. It's a common ploy to cling to per-theater average to rationalize a soft run. Obviously, it's generally easier for a small release to have a higher per-theater average than one at over 3,000 theaters (at any rate, Scream 4 was a disappointment itself)....
Nsbbing $1,677,000 on 300 screens (for a $5,590 per-screen average) is slightly better than the first-weekend performance of From Prada to Nada a couple of months ago ($1,115,638, 256 screens, $4,358 per-screen average). From Prada has now made a total of, um, a little over $3 million. It has not changed the world.