Ayn Rand

Hollywood Shrugged


Photograph courtesy Zepfanman.com

While numerous big name producers and actors have, in the past, expressed interest in adapting Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged for the big screen, nothing has ever materialized. Shortly before his rights to the film were set to expire, however, producer John Aglialoro began filming the first in a trilogy of movies based on the epic novel. The crew wrapped up the principal photography phase of production yesterday. Yet, with a budget of only $5 million and a relatively inexperienced cast and crew, there are questions about whether they can produce a quality adaptation. It appears as though Hollywood has shrugged, once again. Big Hollywood recently payed a visit to the set to get the inside scoop:

Big Hollywood has enjoyed two visits to the film's set, which our own Charles Winecoff will be writing more about soon, but due to the fact that much of what we're reading in the media regarding the film's production doesn't coincide with what we've seen and heard for ourselves, I asked producer Harmon Kaslow to help set the record straight.

Much has been made of the film's reported budget of $5 million, especially for a project major studios have shied away from out of budgetary concerns. Like most smart producers, Kaslow won't talk specifics, but there's more to the story than the $5 million:

"The amount expended on the movie is far north of $5 million. The movie is based on Part 1 of the book (the book has 3 parts) … so the film is based on about 27% of the book." […]

In a Sunday piece for Daily Finance, Bruce Watson took some pretty hard shots at the production claiming it's nothing more than a desperate and cynical rush job using an inexperienced director in order to allow Aglialoro to hold onto the film rights, which were set to expire last month had filming not begun. I asked Kaslow about this directly:

"John Aglialoro finally decided to marshal the production because it was apparent that a studio would not …

"While the rights would revert back to the estate if production did not commence by June 14, 2010, the goal of the producers is to produce a film worthy of epic nature of the novel that will satisfy the millions of persons who have read the book, but also appeal to a wide audience (so as to introduce them to the Ayn Rand's work).

"During the course of Aglialoro's efforts to get the film into production, the project had definitely attracted a number of very reputable directors … however, given Johansson's passion for the material and desire to execute a faithful cinematic vision of the book, the producers believe they found a director that most will believe is a diamond in the rough." […]

No one, including the "Atlas" producers, can predict how a project will ultimately turn out, and that's true whether your budget is $5 million or $200 million. And no one would argue that the challenges involved in bringing such an ambitious and epic story to the screen aren't made that much more difficult with with limited resources, including taking a chance on a director making his theatrical feature debut. However, from all we've seen and from our discussions with the producers, director, and cast, there's no doubt that everyone involved is passionate about telling this story and most importantly, dedicated to remaining true to Ayn Rand's philosophical vision — which would've likely have been compromised bigtime by a major studio.

So will the film live up to expectations despite limited resources? *Shrugs* Who is John Galt?

For more on Rand, be sure to check out Reason's extensive archive.

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  1. Will the movie come with a complimentary bed pan for the speeches?

    1. Sweet merciful crap – I forgot about the speeches.

    2. Relief tube and catch bag sold separately.

  2. I thought The Fountainhead movie sucked, and that was with big stars and (presumably) a big budget. Maybe a lower-budget production will do better with this one. But Atlas has a lot of scenes that would require expensive special effects (train crash, super-weapon detonation) and sweeping scenery (like Mulligan’s Valley) that would also cost a mint, so I don’t see how a “faithful” adaptation could be done on the cheap.

    1. As it’s a novel about ideas and not special effects, it could be done, though there might not be enough loud explosions, shiny objects and a crappy pop score to keep contemporary film-goers interested.

      1. Well, all her novels were about ideas, but there’s a story to go along with those ideas. When I first read the novel, I got the feeling that, of all her writings, Rand meant this one to be a movie because of all the action and assplosions. After all, she started as a screenwriter.

        1. Agreed. Big budget in the hands of a skilled director who gets it would be ideal. Small budget probably means a lot of interior scenes, more like a play than a movie. And yes, I believe I read somewhere that she did approach her novels cinematically. The pictures were certainly in her head as she created the vast, complicated plot structure of Atlas Shrugged. And it could be magnificent if done properly.

          1. So is Michael Bay in or out?

          2. The thing that actually matters is the screenplay. Everything else is secondary. If the screenplay sucks, or changes too much, or cuts too much, you will hate it.

            I myself don’t care one way or the other because 1) I don’t give a shit about Rand, and 2) I am 99.99999% certain Hollywood will fuck up anything like this so royally that they might as well not make it in the first place.

            1. In all of history, only Ed Wood is up to the task.

              Rand’s Atlas characters were designed as caricatures to represent different aspects of the philosophies, and by gawd, caricatures they were.

              Atlas will make a terrible movie unless it is very different from the book. I’m talking year-one film school shit, with characters named Avarice and endless shots of people smoking.

              1. Unfortunately, Rand’s villian characters are turning out to surprisingly realistic.

              2. I think you mean archetypes, not caricatures.

                But yes, the important thing is the screenplay, and Ayn Rand showed with The Fountainhead that she had no clue how to write a good screenplay.


      Directed by Oliver Stone. Starring Susan Sarandon as Dangy Taggert, Benicio Del Toro as Francisco D’anconia, Alec Baldwin as Hank Rearden, and Sean Penn as John Galt.

      Also the plot is changed around a bit so that the “good guys” are fighting for a living wage and better regulations. And Galt’s Gulch is a Marxist commune, where all resources are shared by everyone. And Hank Rearden is a US Senator.

      1. Hey, look what Broadway/Hollywood managed to do with Little Orphan Annie.

        Harold Gray must be spinning in his grave.

    3. There’s no way they can make a “real” version of the film for that amount of money. It’s an “ashcan copy” made only for legal reasons, like Roger Corman’s 1994 version of The Fantastic Four, and will likely never be released.

      1. This needs to be emphasized. I suspect this film might never be (legally) released, like the 1994 Fantastic Four movie.

  3. Would you like a threadjack? Well, fuck what you like. Arab guilty of rape after consensual sex with Jew

    1. I saw this earlier today. The premise of the rape conviction was that he claimed to be a jew, and she would never have fucked him if she knew he was an arab. So he gained consent under false pretenses. I suppose they similarly would find you guilty of rape if you told her you were an airline pilot, or if you told her you really loved her. I think this invalidates most sexual encounters.

      I wonder if they’d also include undisclosed breast implants, hair extensions, “I’m a virgin”, etc…

      1. “I was raped by a push-up bra.”

    2. That was more a case of getting someone to consent to sex through fraud. He lied to her saying he was Jewish when he wasn’t.

      Seems we had some sort of similar laws here in the US of A that were tied to marriage, not casual sex. From the howls of some women who get conned into bed by guys pretending to be famous, I am surprised the woman’s lobby hasn’t gotten it onto the books here.

      1. Where would you rather post comments; Reason or Gaza?

    3. That is fucking hilarious. Bigots always get what’s coming to ’em.

        1. It is hilarious that Semites hate certain other types of Semites but then get tricked into sleeping with them. Really hilarious.

  4. Another Jesse Kline post, another bikini-clad girl.

    1. And the problem is?

      1. No alt-text. At least that’s usually my issue with the pictures.

        1. There is alt-text…

          1. He means title, technically, though everyone incorrectly calls it alt-text these days.

            1. The “alt” attribute of the image tag is blank. I believe this is what Astrid is referring to.

      2. Candidly? I’m delighted.

  5. Check out Francisco D’Anconia….hubba hubba! Rawr.


    1. The movie is only 2 steps removed from Joss Whedon (and thats just obvious steps):

      Taylor Schilling (Dagny) is in Mercy with Michelle Trachtenberg. MT was Dawn on Buffy.

      2 steps. What does that mean for Atlas? Probably nothing.

      1. If it was a series, Fox would cancel it just as it got good?

      2. It means Alan Tudyk will be Cuffy Meigs?

        1. I was going to ask what your deal is with Cuffy Meigs, but, um, thats a really good casting. 🙂

          1. The name Cuffy Meigs just kills me. Yeah, tough guys get names like Dirk and Hoss, and nerds are sometimes named Lamar, but the name Cuffy Meigs makes me want to go out and beat up whoever Cuffy Meigs is.

    2. Good call. Too few people ’round these parts have good taste in men.

      1. For my sake, the fewer women with good taste in men the better.

    3. Meh

  6. Atlas is their cover for filming a game show called Is this Drunk Girl about to Shit in the Pool?

    1. That’s a Baby Ruth bar, you perv.

    2. That’s some professional quality comedy right there, yo!

  7. I’d be interested to see how they handle the dialogue. Screenwriters typically try to keep it short (4-5 lines), but the important speeches in the book go on sometimes 4-5 pages. At least.

    Bergman once famously had a character speak five minutes straight, but I can’t recall anyone else trying this. And even he only did it once in the film.

    1. 4-5 pages if you’re lucky.

      1. Montage.

        1. an ironic 80’s style montage?

  8. produce a quality adaptation. It appears as though Hollywood has shrugged, once again. Big Hollywood recently payed a visit


    What are you, the David Weigel Memorial Scholarship recipient?

    1. Ahhhh Snap!

  9. They should have had Paul Verhoeven direct it. He’s got a demonstrated talent for turning expositions of libertarianism into brainless popcorn movies.

  10. That’s “…paid a visit”!

  11. Not for nuthin’, but I’d rather see what John Stagliano could do with producing Atlas Shrugged!

    1. Exactly what Reason needs to increase it’s daily Stagliano post count to 40.

    2. Stagliano would ensure that Dagny Taggart getting assfucked in the tunnel by John Galt and his 3 black attendants(added for artistic effect) would go down as the best performance since Back Door Sluts 9.

  12. I guess I’ve been spending too much time with my kids. I keep thinking, with skilled direction, the spirit of the novel could be captured pretty well in a 10-minute, “Sir Topham Hatt Shrugs”, episode of Thomas & Friends.

  13. Atlas Shrugged

    A Play, in one act

    By P Brooks


    Sxcene One: A street

    Hobo: Spare a dime for a man down on his luck, Sir?

    Atlas: Fuck off, ya stinky hobo!

    The End.

    1. Hey! You forgot Cuffy Meigs too!

    2. That’s exactly as far as I got when I tried reading it, too.

  14. Epic story, wooden archetypal characters, endless speeches….how could this possibly be a bad movie?

    And there’s no Cuffy Meigs in the list of characters. How do you do Atlas without Cuffy?

    1. I dont think Cuffy is in part 1, is he?

      He might be mentioned as a friend of Jim’s.

      1. Sorry, I didn’t realize that. Boo on me.

        1. RTFAing is hard, even the parts quoted above.

          1. I admit my sin and you thwack me for it? Especially when I could have pointed out that Galt somehow made it into the first part? C’MON!

            1. See my post below:

              Im having fun being the only person who read the stuff prick.

              1. Given that it will only be Part I, the speechifying isn’t a factor unless sequels come out. In that case, there better be more chicks than Dagny and the chick who falls in and out of love with James because he’s a poooosy.

                1. There is Ragnar’s wife.

                  1. And Reardon’s wife.

                    And the chick who is raising her kids in Galt’s Gulch.

                    1. And Reardon’s Mom.

                    2. Rearden’s wife can’t be hotter than Dagny or else we won’t know which one Hank’s supposed to have a boner for.

                    3. Rearden’s wife is supposed to an emasculating shrew, right? She cannot be presented as very hot at all.

                    4. Reardon’s wife is an ex-actress, right? She’s gotta be that brainless kind of hot. Jodi Lynne O’Keefe?

                  2. I thought Ragnar’s wife was unseen, but I admit, it’s been years since I read the damn thing.

                    1. Been a while for me too, but there is a bit where he is lying in the grass with his head in her lap, IIRC.

                    2. I though Ragnar’s wife was the film star who had disappeared. IIRC corectly she’s one of the one’s we hear about throughout the book but only see when Dagny arrives at Galt’s Gulch.

                      Time to reread, I think.

  15. Doing only part 1 probably makes a good movie without having to cut too much. Almost all the interesting bits are in Part 1 anyway.

    Backstory/Building the John Galt line & the Bridge/Finding the engine in the factory/Wyatt’s Torch.

    1. When I interned at Cato, I named my entry in a chili cookoff “Wyatt’s Torch.” Nobody seemed to get it.

      More likely, the chili sucked.

  16. The speeches . . . I don’t know how they’ll handle Galt’s speech, that would be a movie unto itself.

    I can think of a few ways they could pull off the other speeches.

    1. Considering Galt doesnt speak in Part 1….

    2. I don’t know how they’ll handle Galt’s speech, that would be a movie unto itself.

      Galt’s speech shortened:

      “Fuck off ya tards”


  17. As Im normally a comment without reading type poster, Im having fun being the only person who read the stuff prick.

    1. Sounds like everybody who reads Atlas Shrugged…you know, one person actually reads the thing and the rest just sit around and bitch about what might be in there.

  18. As robc has stated, Part 1 is pretty good. I’m actually reading the novel right now, in the last chapter of part 1, and there aren’t any speeches longer than one page so far.

  19. Aw, screw it. Can we get the Illuminatus! Trilogy instead?

    1. OK, I’ll play:



      1. I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here.

        Hagbard Celine/HM – Hugh Laurie
        Joe Malik/JM – George Clooney
        Mavis – Natalie Portman
        Talking porpoise – Isaiah Mustafa
        Sgt. Obanon – Hugo Weaving
        George Dorn – Esai Morales

        OK, you got me. I’m lost. I have no idea where I’m going with this. Which is actually in the spirit of the book. My movie tanked before I could even speculate about a cast.

        OK, this movie will be awful.

        1. Talking porpoise – Isaiah Mustafa

          You win one internets.

          1. What a waste of a hot, beautiful body. Of the many dicks mentioned in this book, he needs to play one of them.

        2. Hagbard and Mavis need to be hotter.

          I’m thinking Scarlett Johanson for Mavis as the character is based on Marilyn Monroe. Can’t think of a good Hagbard, but please no ugly, craggy Hugh Laurie. He’s supposed to resemble Anthony Quinn, so if that guy with the eyebrows who played Spock could show some personality without seeming to gay he might up for it.

          Here’s a pic of Anthony Quinn at about 30, can you think of anyone who looks like that in Hollywood?

  20. imdb doesnt have any listing for “young Dagny” or “young Francisco” so I can guess whats been cut.

    1. The sex scenes?

      1. No. That is the part Im sure wont be cut out.

        1. I seem to recall there was that part where Horny Rearedhim invented a super dick and Sagny had to take it all before they would let her bang all the dudes at Colt’s Couch. We’re talking about Atlas Fugged, right?

          1. Atlas Shagged would have been better.

            1. Oh, behave!

  21. Eddie Willers is black. Huh, who knew?

    1. Speaking of black, the Congressional Black Caucus, a group of legislators who band together solely because of the color of their skin, are about to abuse Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for the perceived racist knee-jerk firing of his subordinate. The irony will be lost on all but a few.

    2. IIRC, there’s not much description of Willers’ physical appearance in the book, so he would be a logical character to cast a minority actor for.

  22. It should be a tv miniseries, not a movie.

  23. This has Lifetime World Premiere Movie written all over it.

  24. I guess I should at least be glad that Ron Howard isn’t directing? *sigh*…this should be an HBO miniseries – ala’ Band of Brothers.

  25. hey Mr.Thompson isn’t cast yet bill clinton anyone

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