Atlas Shrugged's Makers Speak! Q&A with producers & actor at Reason Weekend 2011


Released April 15, 2011, Atlas Shrugged Part I has been predictably panned by reviewers and wildly embraced by audiences.

At the movie-review site Rotten Tomatoes, just 8 percent of critics give a thumbs up, compared to 85 percent of moviegoers. Such a sharply split reaction mirrors the reception of Ayn Rand's original and controversial novel too. Appearing in 300 theaters, the movie's weekend take on a per-screen basis was a strong $5,640, good enough for third overall behind major-studio releases Rio and Scream 4.

How do the folks behind Atlas Shrugged Part I feel about it all?

On April 16, at Reason Foundation's annual Reason Weekend, Nick Gillespie interviewed producers John Aglialoro, Harmon Kaslow, and Mike Marvin, and actor Matthew Marsden (he plays James Taggart) live in front of about 100 people. They talked freely about the challenges of making the film on a tight budget and an even tighter deadline; how Rand's politics play in Hollywood (spoiler alert: poorly!); where the inspiration for the film came from; how the train and other memorable scenes were shot; and whether there's any truth to the rumors that Atlas Shrugged Part III will be a musical…

And then they answer audience questions, including when to expects Parts II and III…

Go here for IMDB's page on the movie.

And go here for's one-stop shop of Atlas Shrugged Part I coverage.

About 40 minutes. Shot by Paul Feine and Paul Detrick; edited by Detrick.

Go to for downloadable versions and subscribe to's YouTube channel to get automatic notifications when new material goes live.

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  1. Isn’t it just a tad of a stretch to say audiences are “wildly” embracing it?

    1. I saw it Sunday afternoon. All seats were filled except the first row and half of the second. The audience clapped and a few cheered at the conclusion.

      1. I went to a Friday, 9:55 pm showing, and the theater was about 2/3 full, with no sounds at all (clapping, cheering, booing, etc). Most of the crowd seemed…well, older, would be a charitable way of putting it.

      2. Wait, they cheered at Dagny’s breakdown? Kind of strange.

        1. I saw it Monday afternoon in a good-sized room (200 seats). There were about 13 viewers. Nobody clapped. It ended and we shuffled out, disappointed.

          1. That’s what you get for going to the movie in San Francisco.

    2. As much as you hate it, the movie is doing quite well!

  2. If they stay true to the book, Part III will be a speech.

    1. Did you watch the video or were you just in a hurry to say something stupid?

  3. Seeing Nick without his jacket is like seeing a turtle out of his shell.

  4. Pulp Fiction cost $8M. And it had famous people in it.

    1. Like, oh-mah-gawd!

    2. What am I, chopped liver?

  5. It pisses me off that I’m going to have to go see it to know if it’s any good or not. Most people have no taste, and this is compounded by the fact that people are heavily emotionally invested in this. So I can’t get a reliable read one way or the other on whether it’s any good or not.

    I guess I get to bite the bullet on this.

    1. I just can’t trust the libertarian crowd on this. I’d rather go watch something that’s completely, batshit lefty documentary. I’d least I know it’ll suck.

      1. I am just always highly averse to going and sitting through something that sucks monkey balls. I did it with The Hangover, and I’m still pissed off about that. If Atlas Shrugged is tolerable or better, no problem, but I’ll throw my drink at the screen if it sucks. And then I’ll really be pissed because I’ll have just thrown my booze.

        1. I loved The Hangover, not sure about the second one though.


            1. hey, low brow comedy has its place.

        2. Epi, I really think you’ll find it tolerable or better. I went in with some apprehension based on early reviews, and was pleasantly surprised; and, the audience applauded. Perhaps most people have no taste, but what about audiences who would attempt to watch AS?

          1. Dude, I hear you, but I have been burned before, and my Spider Sense is screaming at me about this.

        3. It wasn’t bad, Epi. The CG was awful, but I thought the actors did a fair job without being given much to work with by the production crew (purely an opinion judgment on my part). My wife said it wasn’t nearly as bad as she had braced herself for, and being non-political, she was the real litmus test for me.

        4. I didn’t enjoy it at all Epi. But mine are all randroidian objections. All the things that bothered me, like a lot of scenes and details that really are important to the development of the plot and characters being left out or replaced by an abrupt news broadcast or some poor approximation, might not bother anyone who hasn’t read the book a couple times. Though, I’m also surprised by how many people who call themselves fans of Rand and the book are saying they loved it. So maybe I’m just weird.

    2. You’re a pretentious prick but I know you love me.

      1. We were so blissfully free of you for a day or two, rectal. Can’t you just kill yourself already?

        1. I don’t claim to know your tastes in beer but your statement that “Most people have no taste” does qualify you a “a pretentious prick”, regardless of the source of the accusation.

          1. Sure, I’m a prick, but not because I say a true statement. Most people really have no taste.

    3. See, I have incredible taste in movies. I’ve never read anword of Rand, but I appreciate the sentiment. I give the movie a solid meh. It was nice to hear the message on the big screen cause fuck those socialists and other statists, but the screenplay was kind of shitty. I think everyone who says it wasn’t bad is just afraid to admit the truth or is just excited about their favorite book being a movie. You’ll notice how people only say things like ‘better than expected’, ‘not bad’, ‘pretty tolerable’ and the like. When was the last time people were excited about a tolerable movie?

      1. This is exactly why my Spider Sense is tingling so much.

        1. Epi, you’re not going to wind up throwing your drink at the screen. Could they have done a better job with this movie? Unquestionably yes. Did they do a bad job? Unquestionably no. It’s not a great movie, but it is a good movie. If you end up hating it, at least that’ll give you more fuel for your “people have no taste” meme.

          1. Is there any pizza in the movie?

            1. Actually, that’s how they should update the film to avoid all of the train business. Instead of Rearden Metal, it should be Rearden Pizza. Instead of Taggart Transcontinental, it should be Taggart Pizza Service, a national pizza delivery company along the lines of UPS. But only delivering pizza.

              The focus of the story would be on looters trying to force Rearden to use cheap ingredients and to deliver frozen pizzas instead of fresh ones.

              John Galt’s great, abandoned invention is a machine that can place things in stasis, which would allow for fresh, hot pizzas to be delivered to any location in the world.

              Francisco d’Anconia is still a brilliant heir to a massive fortune who pretends to be a dilettante, but it’s olive oil, not copper, that funds his activities.

              Otherwise, pretty much the same story and philosophy. But with pizza.

    4. Poor baby.

  6. Why isn’t Atlas actually in it?

  7. The national debt is a fight against the powers of mankind in the war against the womankind. The kind of thing that does this is a deep hated of love and life that causes me to feel bad about the way our government is eating our future with a big-ass spoon. The government is slamming our assholes with a life-hating zeal that rapes my perception of the way Tiger Woods is WINNING the Masters like a masturbating child trying to understand the world in a way that keeps us safe. Bush knew this, which is the reason he cut taxes for the corporate masters in the way that rapes all our children. The only way to get beyond our greed is a massive army of porno wives that allow for butt-sex. Butt-sex drips shit mixed with cum on the machines of power that control the way we spend money on various things like cigars and bottles of bourbon and butt-sex. Now, if you understand that this means that nuclear warfare destroy the massive porno industry then Gillespie excellent idea of keeping the size of the federal budget to 19% of GPD, then I’ll grant you that butt-sex won’t do a hell of a lot of good. Yet, just remember that life is worth living if the cocaine is in your nose and your dick is in the porno wife’s ass.


    1. So, you liked the movie, then, Charlie?

      1. Sorta.

        1. Deep couches make the Ayn Rand spectacle a lot like the Rand Ayn spectacular love of the peace czars that are killing my will to do good. But this isn’t exactly the thing that gets my asshole loosened. More so, I can love the fact that the Republicrats are funneling my hard earned cash into public schools while Demoplicans are do their part to pay teachers too much of my hard earned party lifestyle. Understanding the reason for this suicide of life and bright songs is the reason that cum and shit is the love miracle of the next generation. I’m pretty sure that the Alabamanuts who are raping their sisters have never seen the shit I’ve seen. Commies are not known for the Ayn Rand solution to the problem of securing our party lifestyles. I’m pretty sure that the Jews are just as much to blame for the shit I’ve pooped since the last sunrise of the new village. In conlusion, I hate the political parties and love the porno parties.


    2. You know, I’m not sure that that isn’t something Charlie would rant.

    3. That read like cocaine. My jaw started clenching. Not that I would know, I’ve just heard…

      1. If your jaw is clenching, then you didn’t do cocaine, or anything that was mostly cocaine. Enjoy your speed.

        1. That doesn’t sound exactly right, man. Bruxing teeth is pretty damn common, and pretty much is jaw clenching when it’s the molars. Perhaps we have differing defintions.

          By the way, you and the AS is funny. You know it’s going to suck, you’ve pointed to about eight legitimate reasons why, and you’re still going. It’s like an elderly mother has guilted her agnostic son into church that weekend. Or it’s like the time I went to the bar to see the U.S. Women’s World Cup. Take your pick.

          1. Hmm, I never get the jaw clenching. Which is fine with me.

            Yeah, I am kind of conflicted over the AS thing. Basically, I am positive I’m not going to enjoy it, but it’s not fair of me to not give it a chance.

            1. I’ll put it this way Epi: overall I didn’t like the movie and found it esthetically lacking, but there were just enough goosebump-raising, well-crafted scenes for me not to feel like I had wasted my time and money seeing it. I’m an Objectivist though, so YMMV.

        2. As I thought a stoner!

  8. Haven’t had the time to see it yet (and will probably miss it in the theaters.)
    From someone who did see it – a big fan of Atlas Shrugged – what was missing was showing the audience that,
    to quote him, “these characters were really on third base because they did hit a triple.” That is, it failed to show teenager Dagny working as a night dispatcher on TT, Francisco turning around some old “played out” copper mine, Rearden getting his hands dirty and laboring virtually 24/7 to invent
    Rearden Metal. Then, the injustice would have been clear.
    Oh, and the characters should have been more real and less cardboardy –
    (sarcasm) have Rearden tell Dagny to pull the car over as he wants to take a crap in the woods, or have Dagny complain about her pms, or have Jim
    Taggart spend a few minutes chatting about the kind of cuffs and collars he prefers on his bespoke shirts.

    1. That sounds exactly like what it was missing: character development. Also, I haven’t read the book, but a friend I saw it with who had said it lacked a lot of rape and cigarette smoking compared to the book.

      1. Since both the book and the movie have zero rape scenes, it sounds like your friend was talking out of his ass about the cartoon version of the book he picked up from some left-wing (or possibly conservative/Christian) detractor.

        1. No, he’s actually a big Rand fan who was making a joke, but I guess not as fanatical a Randroid as you who gets all huffy and indignant at the slightest implication of an insult directed at your hero. I bet your a blast at parties.

          1. I’ve met literally hundreds of Ayn Rand fans with varying senses of humor and social aptitude. Just a couple of days ago I was joking with one about how all of Ayn Rand’s heroic characters are described as thin and “angular.”

            But I’ve never known a single one to make a crack about smoking or rape, which are basically the stock-in-trade of lame dismissals of Rand’s writing.

            1. People do that one-two punch on purpose here. They say something they know isn’t true and that objectivists are sick of hearing and then they say that you have no sense of humor when you point out that it’s false.
              mr. simple’s friend was probably doing what I do—throwing in the preemptive “rape” stinkbomb before you have to suffer anyone else doing it and actually considering themselves clever.

  9. Is it some sort of iron law of the universe that any review of Atlas Shrugged has to start with a blurb about how the author of the review hates Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and wishes nothing but pain for anyone who enjoyed the book?

  10. Coming in 2012:

    Das Kapital: The Motion Picture
    Manifesto! The Musical

    1. And a remake of The Producers!

  11. As usual no name trolls posting!

  12. my wife and i saw Part 1 on friday afternoon on april 15. about three dozen people in a theater seating hundreds potentially. whistling, applause, cheering at the end. i found two or three lines, at least one from Eddie and one from Dagny, which should have been rewritten or re-shot, because “people don’t talk that way in real life… even Rand’s characters,” but given the time and money constraints, the good overwhelms those nits. congratulations to everyone; i first read Atlas around 1970 and have been waiting over 40 years to see it on the Big Screen. I can’t wait to see parts 2 and 3.

    one suggestion… plan, PLEASE, to do a remake in maybe five years or so, and spend Big Bucks and make it LONGER and leave more IN… at least 120 minutes for each Part!!! it deserves it, and so do viewers.

    finally, given what’s going on in the US today, this movie could not possibly have come out at a better time. maybe it will turn on some lights for people who don’t realize how prophetic Rand was, decades ago.

    Cheers to all!
    +af in Raleigh, NC

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