A scene from the film Atlas Shrugged
Hat Tip: John Nolte at Big Hollywood.
After decades in development the film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged comes into theaters this Friday. The film will be done on what is called a platform release from distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures.As part of the ramp up to the films release the Los Angeles times has a fascinating article on its devlopment, production and distribution.
In February, the producers began to share the film with people likely to be in accord with the author's views. They showed footage at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, unveiling a trailer that has since been downloaded more than a million times on YouTube, and screened the final cut for influential conservatives like House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and commentator Andrew Breitbart. They enlisted Freedomworks, the political organizing group behind many tea party events, to help promote it, and started advertising with posters that said "Who Is John Galt?," the first line of the book and a meaningful catchphrase for Rand's acolytes.
Part of the marketing for "Atlas Shrugged: Part I" relies on the movie's status as a product, as Fox News host Sean Hannity has described it, that "liberal Hollywood doesn't want you to see."
The real story of what kept "Atlas" out of movie theaters for so long is a bit more complicated.
During Rand's lifetime, the author stymied "The Godfather" producer Al Ruddy's attempts to make a movie of "Atlas Shrugged" by demanding veto power over every frame. Rand, who was also a screenwriter, had adapted her 1947 novel "The Fountainhead" herself for a 1949 movie starring Gary Cooper, and was irked by a single line cut from the final film. A book like "Atlas Shrugged," at more than 1,000 pages, dense with philosophical ideas and containing a character's speech that covers 57 pages, would require major changes in its adaptation for screen.
The film opens on (at press time) 277 screens this Friday.
In 1992, the heir to Rand's estate sold a 15-year option on the book's rights to Aglialoro for $1 million. "This is the greatest epic that's never been made into a movie," said Aglialoro, who is now chief executive of the exercise equipment manufacturer Cybex. "I was like, 'I don't need a 15-year lease. This is done in 18 months.'"
The businessman, now 67, had first read "Atlas Shrugged" while working as a stock and bond trader on Wall Street in the early 1970s. "It was a stunning realization," Aglialoro said. "It gave a political poetry to capitalism — capitalism as the only moral way people should live in this world." Aglialoro would fashion himself into a kind of Randian hero, owning and operating more than 30 companies and winning a U.S. poker championship.
Over the next 18 years (he bought extensions on his option), Aglialoro developed several ill-fated scripts. One attempt to get the book greenlighted as a miniseries at TNT got caught in post-9/11 concerns about the novel's apocalyptic setting, according to Ruddy, who worked on it. A feature screenplay, by "Braveheart" writer and "Secretariat" director Randall Wallace, was set up at Lionsgate in 2007 with Angelina Jolie attached to play Dagny. According to a source close to Lionsgate, the project fell apart when Aglialoro's commitment to the book's philosophical messages clashed with the studio's aims to make the story more cinematic. According to Aglialoro, the multiple parties couldn't agree on a director.
"There are two big factors that I sense have frightened filmmakers about 'Atlas Shrugged,'" Wallace said. "One is the reverence with which Rand's followers hold the novel and the other is the sprawling nature of the story. I believed to climb that mountain I'd have to shrug off both those fears."
Meanwhile, Rand was gaining a new currency with readers. After several years of selling about 75,000 copies a year, sales of "Atlas Shrugged" spiked during the recent recession, reaching 500,000 in 2009, according to the Ayn Rand Institute, a nonprofit think tank in Irvine.
By March of 2010, Aglialoro had three months to get a film into production or the book's rights would revert to Rand's estate. "It was my wife who said you better get the hell out there and do it," he said.
Here’s how you can find a theatre near you. Here’s how you can request it be shown in your town.