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Movie: Atlas Shrugged Moving Ahead

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From today's Variety:

Lionsgate shrugging

Studio to shoulder long-gestating 'Shrugged'

Ayn Rand's most ambitious novel may finally be brought to the bigscreen after years of false starts.

Lionsgate has picked up worldwide distribution rights to "Atlas Shrugged" from Howard and Karen Baldwin ("Ray"), who will produce with John Aglialoro.

Angelina Jolie, a longtime devotee of Rand's, and Brad Pitt, also a fan, are rumored to be circling the leading roles of Dagny Taggart and John Galt.

"Atlas Shrugged," which runs more than 1,100 pages, has faced a lengthy and circuitous journey to a film adaptation.

The Russian-born author's seminal tome, published in 1957, revolves around the economic collapse of the U.S. sometime in the future and espouses her individualistic philosophy of objectivism. The violent, apocalyptic ending has always posed a challenge but could prove especially so in the post-9/11 climate.

Howard Baldwin said some people have pigeonholed "Atlas" as better suited for a miniseries. That's why he sometimes pondered turning "Atlas" into two movies. In fact, a two-part script penned by James V. Hart ("Contact") for the Baldwins envisions "Atlas" as two pics, although it's likely to be reworked.

For years, producer Al Ruddy tried to make Rand's definitive book into a movie, attracting the interest of Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway at one point.

But while Rand was still alive, she had script approval, complicating the process. After the author's death in 1982, Ruddy continued his efforts and, in 1999, he inked a pactpact to produce "Atlas" as a miniseries for TNT. Ultimately, the deal faltered.

In 2003, the Baldwins acquired the film rights to the novel from Aglialoro, a New York businessman, after launching Crusader Entertainment with Philip Anschutz. Hart was hired at that time to adapt.

Anschutz, however, ultimately decided not to make the movie.

The Baldwins then took the project with them when they left Crusader and formed the Baldwin Entertainment Group.

"What we've always needed was a studio that had the same passion for this project that we and John have," said Baldwin,

Generally speaking, Lionsgate keeps production budgets below $25 million. "Atlas" is likely to cost north of $30 million, but the studio will reduce its exposure through international pre-salespre-sales and co-financing partners. Actors would likely take less money upfrontupfront -- a common practice for the indieindie.

Rand's individualistic and character-driven stories have captured the imagination of Hollywood before. Warner Bros. made "The Fountainhead," starring Gary Cooper as the maverick architect Howard Roark, in 1949.

Oliver Stone was attached to direct a remake of "Fountainhead" for Warner Bros. and Paramount, but the project has languished in development. Along the way, Pitt expressed interest in playing Roark.

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That's exciting news. I'm worried that it will be butchered though. Speaking of which...

Lionsgate has picked up worldwide distribution rights to "Atlas Shrugged" from Howard and Karen Baldwin ("Ray"), who will produce with John Aglialoro.
Does anyone have any insight into John Aglialoro? He's a member of the board of TOC and a registered Libertarian.

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As long as the message isn't butchered, I don't really care how many liberties they take with the plot. Trying to translate a book like AS directly into a movie would be a disaster anyway. They're gonna have to take liberties if they want it to be watchable.

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It can be done. The Lord of the Rings was successfully executed and will forever be a shining example that anything can be made into a good movie. (Has anyone read those books? They are even similar to Atlas Shrugged in that they are long-winded.)

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I don't see how even a TOCer could really mess up Atlas. The worst thing they could do would be to cast Pitt as Galt and Jolie as Dagny. I don't want to see either of them in this film *at all*. If they manage to get decent actors I still retain some semblence of hope...

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Wow - I didn't think it was possible but she looks *uglier* as a blonde. If she *has* to be Dagny I hope they let her keep her natural hair color.

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Myself:

Angelina is a great actress. In fact, she gets better with every movie. She is excellent at conveying confidence and intelligence and she is absolutely beautiful. I will admit she looks terrible as a blonde, but I don't remember Dagny's hair being blonde like that... actually, whose hair was that blonde in the story's time frame? Nobody's, right?

Brad Pitt is a good-looking 40-year-old, but an awful actor. He also isn't built like John Galt.

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It can be done. The Lord of the Rings was successfully executed and will forever be a shining example that anything can be made into a good movie. (Has anyone read those books? They are even similar to Atlas Shrugged in that they are long-winded.)

Atlas Shrugged is not long-winded. It is not unnecessarily prolonged, tedious, or protracted. The length is appropriate. To use the word long-winded to describe the work of a writer is an insult if not true, since it implies that the author just rambles on and never gets to the point.

Perhaps, you're thinking of a different meaning for your word. But Atlas is NOT long-winded. To most it may be but if one understands the nature of Romanticism one begins to see the necessity of certain scenes, narrative, and dialogue.

It's a tribute to the genius of Ayn Rand that she could pull her theme off in 1200 pages.

Jose Gainza.

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Come on, you guys are really letting me down! Why hasn't anyone railed about this sentence yet? :

The Russian-born author's seminal tome, published in 1957, revolves around the economic collapse of the U.S. sometime in the future and espouses her individualistic philosophy of objectivism.

I think there is a little something wrong with the last Word.

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Angelina is a great actress. In fact, she gets better with every movie. She is excellent at conveying confidence and intelligence and she is absolutely beautiful. I will admit she looks terrible as a blonde, but I don't remember Dagny's hair being blonde like that...

I don't know where people get the idea that Dagny was blonde. Rand's initial introduction of the character includes the line "A sweep of brown hair fell back, almost touching the line of her shoulders." IOW, Dagny is a brunette. Rearden's hair is described as "ash-blond."

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EC    16

Yes and no. It's not the correct way to spell Objectivism, but the person who wrote this is obviously a non-O'ist and doesn't no better and it's still half-decent publicity. So I'd say it's a wash and a non-issue in this case.

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khaight:

Yeah, I saw Dagny as brunette in my head, which I usually trust, as I make a point to get an accurate mental picture of fictional characters based on the descriptions in their novels. But I had no immediate reference, so...

In that case, Angelina would only be disqualified for being too beautiful or exotic (her eyes, lips and skull structure), since I remember Rand making a point to describe Dagny as striking but not beautiful (in contrast to Dominique in The Fountainhead, who was "the most beautiful woman he had ever seen," or something like that.)

AMERICONORMAN:

Atlas Shrugged is long-winded, and by that I do mean that it is unnecessarily long. I understand that you are a writer who especially holds Rand in high esteem. Well, I am a reader, I'm not really interested in justifying a novely by pidgeonholing it into an established genre, and strictly as a narrative, at times Atlas Shrugged was almost painful to trudge through. There must be a way to give your reader a heavy sense of the passage of time without actually making them experience it in real life, as they read.

Anyway, I still like the book for other reasons, but honestly, I would be surprised if you weren't in the minority in thinking that it is concise. I mean, she drills the same points over and over again sometimes three and four times!

Edited by JASKN

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I would be surprised if you weren't in the minority in thinking that it is concise. I mean, she drills the same points over and over again sometimes three and four times!

Well, with respect to this particular forum, you are in the minority. This has been discussed on here before and the "majority" consensus as I recall was that she said exactly what she needed to say, no more, no less. Past that, I'm not sure what evidence you have to support what other readers thought of it in terms of length.

That said, this thread needn't sidetrack off the movie onto this particular issue. If I can find the other thread I'll link it so that debate can be taken there.

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Am I the only person who likes Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie for these roles? Yeah, they're both modern-day hippies, but that shouldn't affect their abilities to play the roles.

I actually think Pitt is a good actor. My favorite role of his is Legends of the Fall, but he's had some other good ones as well. I don't think I've ever seen a movie that Jolie is in, but she looks about like what I'd expect Dagny to look.

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Am I the only person who likes Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie for these roles? Yeah, they're both modern-day hippies, but that shouldn't affect their abilities to play the roles.

I actually think Pitt is a good actor. My favorite role of his is Legends of the Fall, but he's had some other good ones as well. I don't think I've ever seen a movie that Jolie is in, but she looks about like what I'd expect Dagny to look.

Well, here I am. I think it's perfectly okay. I suggested Brad Pitt as Galt in my first post when starting this thread and I still stand by my decision. Even though I would prefer to see Kiera Knightley as Dagny (I think that she would be perfect for that role), I'm glad that at least one of my preferences is met. But then, I would have prefered Christian Bale as Galt.

To the "I can't stand that Brad Pitt isn't John Galt"-folks, well here we go: Brad Pitt is an actor. He is neither an Objectivist nor is he a physicist and he is also not a philosopher last that I heard of. Who cares what he does in real life? He's playing a role. Tim Robbins also played Dufresne, didn't he? Did that spoil the movie? Nope.

The same applies regarding Angelina Jolie.

I'm glad the damn movie finally gets made at all. And since it will be made with world-known actors the movie will attract a world-wide audience. This is way more than I ever hoped for.

So I pay tribute to my name as I, for one, am happy.

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If Jolie and Pitt can be signed at attractive terms, that means that the movie can virtually be assured of making money, which means it will be made. I think Jolie and Pitt could provide at least adequate performances, and they would probably learn something in the process. Jolie will probably think she's Dagny Taggart for a while. But it's going to be hard to fit her 3 men into less than 3 hours. Maybe the Francisco backstory will be dropped, and it becomes a Rearden vs Galt triangle. Maybe the characters of Galt and Francisco will be merged, as hard to imagine as that is. I think the movie will have to focus on the conflict and plot, not the philosophy, but that's probably a good thing for Objectivism. If the movie can get people interested in the plot/story, they may read the book, which is the only thing that can coherently convey the philosophy.

Key conflicts I suspect would be highlighted in the movie:

Rearden & Dagny vs. James & the world in the John Galt line building section

Stay vs. Strike in the accelerating decline of the world section

likely tied to the question of "Does Dagny choose Rearden or Galt?"

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RationalCop:

That's why I said, "I would be surprised" and not, "I know for a fact," although I wasn't really banking on the opinions of only this forum to go "against" Rand's novel. Anyway, you're right that it is off-topic. Although I appreciate you looking for the link, don't worry about it. I'm not very interested in debating the topic further.

Felix:

I think Kiera Knightley would make a good Dominique, but she is too young for Dagny. But you and Moose are right in regard to acting. I was thinking the same thing about Angelina Jolie. Personally, I could probably not hold a conversation with her in real life. I mean, she's obsessed with babies and third world countries! But if I could talk to some of her characters, that would be interesting. On a side note, I guess I would have a difficult time separating my personal beliefs in order to successfully portray a character entirely skewed from my own. Jolie does it, though.

A.West:

I think a good screenwriter could build a successful plot which implies most of the philosophy, similar to the book but less forcefully. I'm imagining Jolie (and I guess Pitt) acting out the conflicts you listed, and I'm already interested in the movie. It could be great.

Edited by JASKN

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Concerns:

Angelina Jolie, a longtime devotee of Rand's, and Brad Pitt, also a fan, are rumored to be circling the leading roles of Dagny Taggart and John Galt.
Jolie as Kay Ludlow, maybe. Within literary archetypes, she's a great seductress (Aphrodite), possibly too much so to pull off a heroine (Artemis), though. Maybe she can do it, but I have doubts. Pitt? I'm a bit torn here. On one hand such star power will likely bring large audiences; on the other hand, is he too big a star? Will I see Galt or Pitt on the screen?

Besides, wouldn't Hank Rearden get more screen-time? Galt's not that present in most of the book, so why cast a superstar in the role? Cast Pitt as Rearden; get someone else for Galt.

The violent, apocalyptic ending has always posed a challenge but could prove especially so in the post-9/11 climate.
"The violent, apocalyptic ending?" Okay, there's the bomb and the torture scene, which stand out as the greatest scenes of violence, but given movies like Saw and (insert end-of-the-world-disaster-flick of your choice), how problematic is this? "Apocalyptic?" That's up to the director and production team. If it's set up well, and contrasted properly with he Valley, the bleakness can make a strong point without being schmaltzy and ... well, Hollywood.
For years, producer Al Ruddy tried to make Rand's definitive book into a movie, attracting the interest of Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway at one point.
Redford would've made a wonderful Galt. Too bad he's 200 years old. :P
But while Rand was still alive, she had script approval, complicating the process.
Wouldn't Piekoff have inhereted that right as "intellectual heir"?
Generally speaking, Lionsgate keeps production budgets below $25 million. "Atlas" is likely to cost north of $30 million ...
If they're getting Pitt and Jolie for the film, we they have any money left to make the movie!?
Oliver Stone was attached to direct a remake of "Fountainhead" for Warner Bros. and Paramount, but the project has languished in development.
I call that dodging a bullet. Edited by synthlord

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Anytime the discussion turns to casting Atlas, Pitt's name comes up for Galt. The consensus seems to be that it should either be Pitt, or an unknown.

One thing's for sure: if Pitt plays him, there will be major plot changes from the book. You don't cast Brad Pitt if you're going to leave him offscreen for two-thirds of the movie. I don't have my copy in front of me, but I think it's at least that far into the book before Galt makes an actual appearance.

Angelina Jolie doesn't fit my picture of Dagny at all! I see Dagny as having finer features than Jolie (as who doesn't?) and being not nearly so, er, top-heavy. Jodie Foster, anyone?

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Angelina Jolie doesn't fit my picture of Dagny at all! I see Dagny as having finer features than Jolie (as who doesn't?) and being not nearly so, er, top-heavy. Jodie Foster, anyone?

Heh, true. Jodie Foster would have been a good fit. But now that it's Angelina, well, there's no use crying over spilled milk.

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