Hedgie Advises Friends To See ‘Atlas Shrugged’

Apr 28 2011 | 10:38am ET

The managing partner of one of the world’s biggest hedge funds has emailed his friends urging them to see the film ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ based on the novel by Ayn Rand.

Cliff Asness, managing partner of AQR Capital Management, says the movie has been misunderstood. His letter, published on the CNBC web site, says, in part:

“Does it have its amateurish moments and characteristics?

“Sure. It was made for a trifle by Hollywood standards. The same critics that, if this tiny amount of money was spent on a poorly produced and acted ‘Indie’ film, that happened to be about a hermaphrodite Palestinian boy who after escaping fascist Israeli persecution moves to Texas to face fascist American persecution (and isn't immediately granted his full ‘right’ to all the healthcare the USA can afford), would sing it's [sic] praises and laud it's [sic] signs of a tight budget as ‘authentic.’”

Asness calls the film’s producer, businessman John Aglialoro, who spent 18 years and over $20 million of his own money to make “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1,” a personal hero.

Aglialoro, according to the Los Angeles Times, is having “deep second thoughts” about doing part two, given the drubbing the film has received from the critics. (Roger Ebert said the film was "the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault," while Rolling Stone's Peter Travers said the movie "sits there flapping on screen like a bludgeoned seal.")

The film generated $1.7 million on 299 screens during its opening weekend but the box office slipped 47% in the film’s second week in release.

Ayn Rand’s novel, which explores themes she’d eventually develop into her theory of ‘objectivism,’ was also poorly received by critics when it was published in 1957 but has sold consistently since then and was named the second most influential book of all time (number one was the bible) in a 1991 survey by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress. The rankings were based on 2,000 responses.

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