The Internet Has "Hollywood Very Scared": Atlas Shrugged's Harmon Kaslow


"Hollywood really lacks the courage to take a message like Ayn Rand's—like the one in Atlas Shrugged—and believe that there's an audience for that," says Harmon Kaslow, producer of the movie trilogy Atlas Shrugged. The third and final installment, Who is John Galt? will be in theaters on September 12.

Kaslow tells Reason TV's Nick Gillespie that technological advancements are leading to the demise of the liberal Hollywood's monopoly on films. "I think [the Internet] has Hollywood very scared," says Kaslow, "you now have a lot of players who can bring content to anyone on the planet." 

Kaslow also discusses Rand's continuing influence on American audiences and what he hopes audiences will take away from the Atlas Shrugged films.

About 9 minutes. Camera by Joshua Swain and Amanda Winkler. Edited by Winkler. 

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  1. I’m pretty sure Hollywood make just about any film if they think it’s a cash machine. Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly enough ninja turtles in Ayn Rand’s books to convince them to make a decent objectivist film.

    1. Millions of copies sold don’t count for anything, I suppose.

      1. Who’s the market? The 1 percent of the country that sometimes votes LP?

        I’d love a well done Atlas Shrugged with good actors and a tight script, but I’m in a pretty small minority in this country.

        1. I’ve heard that more people go to movies that don’t suck than go to the ones that do.

          1. That’s crazy. You’re crazy.

          2. A look at the ranking of box office clearly shows that idea to be false. In fact suckage seems to be directly proportional to box office.

        2. Rand’s novels and other writings have been translated into various languages and have sold literally millions of copies since they were published. And lots of people besides libertarians have read them. How much more of a market does Hollywood require?

          I don’t think it’s lack of a market that holds Hollywood back; it’s more like their fundamental opposition to the ideas expressed in her books. Of course, there is also the fact that these days Hollywood isn’t interested in making films that would appeal to anyone with a mental age higher than that of a kid.

          1. I just don’t think the material translates well to screen. That’s OK; lots of great books would make terrible movies.

            1. I think that’s the thing. The movies are out. People would see them if they wanted to.

              Not to speak heresy, but Atlas Shrugged is a damned boring book if you don’t identify with its persecution complex. The last 500 pages were murder. A full length film interpretation would be difficult to survive.

              I think a movie that ends with the train crash could be workable, and would make her point just fine, but in the end isn’t it really the rants that most people read AS for? And those don’t really translate to film.

              Dictionaries sell millions of copies also. Doesn’t mean they would make good movies.

              1. We got to see the movie last month at FreedomFest, introduced by Stossel, with Herman Kaslow and the actor who plays John Galt in the third movie answering questions after the show. Not much to report from the Q&A. But I think you’ll all be amazed to know that Galt’s radio speech is winnowed down to about three minutes.

                Oh, and no nudity.

                1. But I think you’ll all be amazed to know that Galt’s radio speech is winnowed down to about three minutes.

                  I have heard that before and it doesn’t at all surprise me. Most of the philosophical ideas expressed in that speech – especially the ones concerning religion and morality – would be very unappealing to the largely social conservative audience who attended the first two movies.

              2. Dictionaries sell millions of copies also. Doesn’t mean they would make good movies.

                People don’t generally buy dictionaries and reference books for the same reasons as novels. Although I must admit to having perused dictionaries and encyclopedias for entertainment on occasion.

            2. I just don’t think the material translates well to screen

              If the first two movies are anything to judge by, I’d be tempted to agree with you. I saw them both, and if I had not already read the book, I’d have had a hard time figuring out what the hell was going on. Nobody should have to work that hard to watch a frigging movie.
              I cut the first one some slack, because I knew that the producers were rushed for time to make it. But they had plenty of time to make the second one and it just plain sucked.

          2. Just because people read a book doesn’t mean they enjoyed the book or would have any desire to see it as one movie much less three. I read it and thought you could make a somewhat decent movie out of the middle 200 or so pages. The part where Dagny is realizing everyone important is gone and goes about tracking them down. The rest is Rand wielding the objectivism cudgel to make sure there are no mistakes about her real point. I think it took me a couple weeks to get through the radio address because I kept falling asleep.

            1. The radio address is far and away the worst part of the book.

              It should have been “John Galt took the microphone and began to speak.” Fade out, end of scene.

              You can’t build a character like that and then speak for him. You just can’t.

              Once he talks for about a page and half you can’t help but start thinking “this guy is a moron. How could he ever have invented a perpetual motion machine?”

              And he doesn’t shut up for 60 more pages.

              1. How could he ever have invented a perpetual motion machine?

                He didn’t. His motor worked by converting one kind of readily abundant electrical energy into a much more usable one. That isn’t perpetual motion.

        3. I’d love a well done Atlas Shrugged with good actors and a tight script, but I’m in a pretty small minority in this country.

          No, pretty much everyone loved Iron Man 2.

          1. No they didn’t. IM2 was widely derided, and for good reason. Hate to say it but it was bad. Still better than IM3 ugh.

  2. I’m not so sure. I think that the illegal downloading of movies is a bigger concern than a few independent film makers making films that the few of us with a good education and brains want to see.
    As long as we have the liberal education system with their poor education and misinformation campaign there will always be many more people that want to watch “Hot Tub Time Machine” than any Ayn Rand movie no matter how profound.
    Its still a demand oriented market and the market is both stupid and immature.
    We have a country of 8th graders in both intellectual and emotional development.

    1. *eyeroll*

      How it could possibly be that people want in enjoyment in their lives?

      1. If you don’t like what I like you’re a child and a poopyhead!

        1. Mooooooooommmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

    2. I liked AS and slogged my way through “the speech” in one sitting. The only way a movie version would be better than Hot Tub Time Machine is if actual politicians were harmed in the making of it.

  3. I suppose I’ll suffer through it when it goes on Netflix. Goddamn movies aren’t as painful as the book was, but they’re close. At least they’ve got a fairly hot actress to play Dagny in the third installment. Bit of a giraffe, but still hot.

    1. I actually liked the book a lot but have no desire to see the movie in the theater. Perfect for Netflix though.

      1. The first one had Taylor Schilling playing Dagny. I could watch her all day. Second one had no redeeming qualities. Third one has Laura Regan who is reasonably hot. Way too skinny for John’s taste, but fine by me.

    2. I haven’t even seen the second one yet. First was so bad, I figured why bother?

    3. I kind of liked the first movie but was pretty disappointed with the second one. I thought the first one did a good job of weeding out the parts that made the book such a painful slog. The second one wasn’t so good with selecting in the important stuff, in my opinion.

      1. It’s hard to believe the second one was made by people who agreed with Rand.

        Francisco and Dagny are spectacularly awful, and thoroughly at odds with Rand’s romantic vision.

        And where did that skank of a Lilian come from? How would it have been possible for Hank to have married that crass, vulgar, pig?

        I wondered why I couldn’t remember the second movie, so I fired up Netflix. Ugh! I obviously just blacked out the horror of it all.

        First one, not so bad, but my recollection is that it stopped making sense in the last half hour. But the second one. Simply craptastic.

  4. I used to see a lot of movies but now only go occasionally. I like the series or mini-series like programs on cable or streaming (True Detective, Fargo, GoT, and now The Leftovers). I like watching when I want and catching up on series when I’ve got the time.

    Movies are almost all dog shite now. Hollywood should be concerned about that.

  5. You want an idea for a good movie based on a philosophy book? Get Terry Gilliam to produce Thus Spoke Zarathustra. I’d be there in a heartbeat.

  6. My take on Hollywood is that it suffers from the same decline in “scholarship” that governance and education suffers from. Hollywood has always made light weight crap or B (or even C) level movies (Ritz Brothers, anyone?). But they also made epics. Intelligent scripts, great direction, great cinematography. But what have the “great” movies been recently? A Spielberg crap fest? Ron Howard cookie cutter job? We just have to face the facts that, since the Boomers, our erudition (in the good sense) has declined across the board and (in the bad sense) has shot through the roof. People know more facts and data as mankind’s overall knowledge grows, but the ability to make a really great piece of art that merges the intellectual and the creative is gone. “Art” today is a hodgepodge of meme’s and cliches. Even at the highest levels. In days gone by, your B and C caliber movies were pretty much boiler plate, but your A level, at their best, were insightful. Today your big budget movies are color by numbers just as much as the schlock.

    1. “Art” today is a hodgepodge of memes and cliches.

      I agree with you about Spielberg and think the sentence above describes just about all his post-Jaws work. I’ve never understood his adulation in Hollywood, but if you think about how moderately-intelligent most actors and actresses are, it makes sense. They equate “pleasing” with “art”.

      Spielberg’s films so often seem like a bunch of TV commercials stitched together by a simplistic narrative.

    2. I think part of this is simply the swing against director-driven projects of the 70s. Heaven’s Gate was the death knell of the big-budget art movie. It was a hundred-million-dollar Western with no heroes, no excitement, a hundred morally ambiguous unlikable characters and a story no one cared about.

      Hollywood said “Fuck if we’re ever doing THAT again. Director – here’s what the focus groups came up with for a plot – now shut up and go shoot it.”

  7. The third and final installment, Who is John Galt? will be in theaters on September 12.

    “OMG! I’m so excited!”, said nobody.

  8. As St. Ayn would say, when things don’t go your way, whine about it and blame other people. Actually she might say exactly that, in different, copious words.

    1. I doubt very seriously if that is what she would say. As a matter of fact, she would probably say something like if you don’t like living in a world you never made, then why the hell didn’t you make it?

    2. I’m getting mixed messages here. If you don’t like her why do you do the very thing you say she’d do? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a comment of yours that wasn’t blaming someone for things not being the way you want them to be.

        1. Nah, Tony’s a real person. Well he wishes he was a real person anyway. 🙂

  9. I think it is more they hate the message rather than lacking the courage. They keep pouring money into antiwar money losers that blame the US and capitalism for all ills.

    1. I think it is more they hate the message rather than lacking the courage.

      There is some truth to this. Her anticommunism gave her some boosters in 1950s Hollywood by the likes of Selznick. And I believe Barbara Stanwyck was a fan but Hollywood is a pure prog town today.

  10. Another fiction novel fast becoming reality is a book called A Distant Crossing written 30 years ago. Premised on a monetary meltdown, we are living the plot.

  11. OK wow there is a dude that knows what time it is.

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