Will anti-Obama ‘2016’ spawn more conservative films?

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Perhaps no film targeted at the right-leaning market commanded as much attention and anticipation as last year’s “Atlas Shrugged: Part I,” an adaptation of Ayn Rand’s perennially best-selling fictional ode to the glories of individual achievement. Despite name recognition and a ready-made fan base of libertarian faithful, the film underperformed at the box office. Undeterred, the filmmakers went ahead with production of “Atlas Shrugged: Part II,” which opens Oct. 12.

Harmon Kaslow, a producer of “Atlas Shrugged: Part II,” readily admits the release date close to the election is by design, and thinks that the film is primed to bring conservatives and libertarians into the theater.

“The population that tends to support this type of film has been disenfranchised by what’s available,” Mr. Kaslow said. “We aim to reacquaint them with the theater.”

Still, the results could be muddied by a particularly political year. “If ‘2016’ had been released in June, we likely wouldn’t be hearing much about it,” said Mr. Simanton, adding that Michael Moore’s hit 2004 anti-Bush documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11” “was very successful in its time, but Moore’s later films didn’t do nearly as well.”

Mr. Simanton thinks that, ultimately, studios will continue to seek films with broad-based appeal transcending the partisan divide. “Studios are about profits,” Mr. Simanton said. “They don’t stand to gain from segmenting their audiences into groups.”

“I don’t think exhibitors took us as seriously as they should have for ‘Part I,’” Mr. Kaslow said. “I think now that ‘2016’ has had all this success, it has only instilled greater confidence in exhibitors about our potential to succeed at the box office.”

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