Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Trainwreck Foretold

The Atlasphere carries an interview with the proposed "Atlas Shrugged" movie's Executive Producer John Aglialoro. Aglialoro, who has no previous movie credits but who does manufacture high-end fitness equipment, says he expects it to be released in Fall 2009. He also claims "it will be set in modern-day American"(sic), have a budget of $70m and, he proudly proclaims if we were really still in the 1950s, "it will be in color." However, as yet no major stars are attached to the project other than Angelina Jolie and she is now likely to be pregnant, thus making this date even more unlikely. Jolie also provides us with this priceless quote: “Dagny Taggart is the most relatable character to me of all the extensive literature I have ever read.” The inevitable "Who is John Galt" question remains unanswered; oddly enough for the lead in a big budget picture, Aglialoro suggests he will be probably played by an "unknown." The script of this vast novel, long enough to be at one stage proposed as a movie trilogy, is now down to a trim 2.5 hours - barely enough to get through Galt's speech, one might have thought. Unless they're thinking of cutting...surely not!
In other words, "Atlas Shrugged" looks like doing for the entertainment industry what Founders College did for education. The real entertainment, however will be the fact that Aglialoro has chosen The Objectivist Centre's David Kelley as the consultant on this project, saying "he has been integral in helping with the philosophic judgments in approving the script, and keeping true to the Objectivist view of the message of the novel." Aglialoro is even trying to get Kelley a writing or production credit, thus guaranteeing the undying emnity of Kelley's arch enemies, and Ayn Rand's best funded, and most fanatical and vocal fanbase, Leonard Peikoff and the Ayn Rand Institute. Pass the popcorn.


Neil Parille said...

Even though David Kelley has been seriously corrupted by who knows what, I assume the ARI types will see the movie because they probably don't want it to be a flop.

It's been years since I read Atlas, but I wonder how it will translate to the Big Screen.

Anonymous said...

After the Kelley split, a big deal was made about avoiding giving moral sanction to anyone with even the slightest lack of Objectivist orthodoxy, notably in Peter Schwartz' "On Sanctioning the Sanctioners." My suspicion is that Schwartz and Peikoff will at some point denounce the film for its involvement with Kelley and that the orthodox Objectivist establishment will act to distance themselves from the project. I don't know how pervasive this attitude will be amongst the rank and file.

Anonymous said...

It will be set in modern America? Then they must write a completely new story.

Oh well, I won't hold my breath...

Meg's Marginalia said...

They'll probably do what they did with the Fountainhead movie, be happy about the publicity, but once the awful reviews come in, decry it and attribute the flop to the screenplay being not true enough to every minute detail and letter of the novel, rather than face the truth that in reality, Atlas Sucked.

Daniel Barnes said...

I can't quite believe it's ever going to happen. Aglialoro's gauche interview doesn't inspire much confidence, certainly. Check this:

"We can’t include every detail from the book."

Every detail? Getting a 1000p book down to 2.5 hours is, on the very rough script page per minute not about paring off a few "details" but losing probably 70-80% of the book. This is cute too:

"In fact, when we do the DVD we want to include something on the disc to promote the book. I expect to include a feature on the making of the movie."

Wow, a making-of feature on the DVD. Great idea.

JayCross said...

I gotta be honest, I have almost zero faith in this movie. I think it will utterly trainwreck in terms of getting key points across and keeping the audience's attention. Which is sad, because this movie could be so much.

That said, I wish they could get Nicholas Cage to play Hank Rearden. They'd better get someone worthy of the character. I could care less who plays John Galt.

JayCross said...


C'mon..everything about that picture screams "Trailblazing steel executive!"

Michael Prescott said...

The interview and Daniel's comments about it are both pretty funny.

Call me cynical, but I continue to doubt that this movie will get made. Anybody can announce a film in development; the question is whether all the necessary pieces of the puzzle can come together to make it happen.

At this point, they have a lead actress who's pregnant; they have Russell Crowe reading the script (how many scripts is he offered in a year?); they have a B-list director with two films on his resume, one of which grossed $17 mil worldwide, while the other one is scheduled for a "limited release" this year; and they have an estimated budget of $70 mil, which isn't much for an epic 150-minute movie crowded with special effects and big-name stars. (Plus, they haven't said they actually have the money, have they? Only an estimate of how much they'll need.)

"And it will be in color." But will it be a talkie?

"Dagny Taggart is the most relatable character to me of all the extensive literature I have ever read."

That extensive literature consisting of a The Catcher in the Rye and whole lot of manga.

Daniel Barnes said...

Michael P
>"And it will be in color." But will it be a talkie?

Isn't that classic?

>Call me cynical, but I continue to doubt that this movie will get made.

What I can't believe is that this interview was read aloud to a roomful of grownups, and supposedly savvy investment types (ie the New York Junto) at that, without guffaws of laughter. I am beginning to think there must be something like a post-hypnotic suggestion buried in Rand's fiction that later, when her name is mentioned, suspends the critical faculty of otherwise intelligent people.

At any rate, if you believe that interview, I've got this revolutionary epistemology you may also be interested in...

Michael Prescott said...

Since it sounds like they've been having some trouble with the script (three writers and counting), allow me to contribute my own version of Atlas Shrugged: The Movie. I believe it offers everything fans are looking for: action, romance, plot twists, a fast pace, philosophical deepness, and characters who are relatable.



TITLE: "The People's State of America, sometime in the relatively recent past or future."


WESLEY MOUCH, ROBERT STADLER, MR. THOMPSON and other VILLAINS are interrogating HANK REARDEN. In the audience, DAGNY TAGGART (wearing a blousy smock to conceal pregnancy) looks on.

MOUCH: Mr. Rearden, why should you be the only one permitted to manufacture Rearden Software?

REARDEN: Bite me.

A stir among the SPECTATORS. Flashbulbs POP. Newsreel cameras WHIR. DAGNY, unmoved, shows only a cool, mocking smile.

MR. THOMPSON: I hereby declare Rearden MicroSystems and Steel Imports, Inc., to be the property of the state!

Over the heads of the committee, a big-screen TV flashes on. JOHN GALT faces the camera.

GALT: A is A.

Pandemonium erupts. All the VILLAINS fall down dead. FRANCISCO D'ANCONIA parachutes down from a skylight and tosses MAC-11 machine guns to REARDEN and DAGNY. Together the three heroes BLAST their way through the rioting crowd.

FRANCISCO: Hasta la vista, parasites!

They reach the main door, where a frightened SECURITY GUARD throws down his gun and puts his hands up.

SECURITY GUARD: You can't shoot an unarmed man!

DAGNY (in CLOSEUP to conceal pregnancy): Check your premises.

She UNLOADS fifty rounds into his chest.


DAGNY, FRANCISCO, and REARDEN race down the steps to a Taggart Transglobal spaceliner parked in the street. They board the ship and TAKE OFF in a ROAR of flame.


DAGNY at the controls, REARDEN and FRANCISCO seated behind her.

DAGNY: I'm taking us to Atlantis. And when I get there, I'm dumping you, Hank.

REARDEN: It's all good. Whenever I pour a heat of steel or write a new line of code, it'll be like you're going down on me. Anyway, these days I'm more in the mood for something Latin...


FRANCISCO: Ai chihuahua!


The spaceliner touches down. DAGNY (carrying a beach chair to conceal pregnancy) runs from the ship and embraces JOHN GALT.

DAGNY: We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?

GALT: Shut up and kiss me.

They kiss passionately. Soundtrack SWELLS with the theme of Halley's Fifth Concerto (or ELO's "Hold on Tight to Your Dream," depending on availability).

On the screen appears "THE END," which morphs into a QUESTION MARK.




Meg's Marginalia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meg's Marginalia said...

LOL John Galt = Bill Gates

Michael, you're hilarious and incisive, as usual. I wish I had your fiction writing skills.

Anonymous said...


If you would like to see the brilliant Jeremy Northam as John Galt in
the movie "Atlas Shrugged", please sign this petition which is being
sent to Baldwin Entertainment, executive producers of the film.


Neon Vincent said...

Here we are, more than two years after the original post, and the film is still not made. IMDB has it listed as "in production" with a release date of 2011. While the ads on the site still indicate that Angelina Jolie is starring, a comment notes that "Producers in talks with Charlize Theron to possibly adapt this as a mini-series."


You're right. This is a trainwreck.