Tuesday, July 06, 2010

If he could just shrug this off...

The book. The saga. The major motion picture. The movie event of the century.

Yep, the million dollar production of Atlas Shrugged from famed movie producer John Aglialoro, directed by the inimitable auteur Paul Johansson and starring Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggert, is underway.

Wait, wait. John Aglia-who-o? Paul Johansson — that guy from One Tree Hill — seriously? Not Taylor Schilling, Angelina Jolie, right? — those rumors have been around for a while. Nope.

Let me 'splain. No, no, it's too long. Let me sum up.

John Aglialoro (head of Cybex, a fitness equipment company, and also a trustee of The Atlas Society) acquired the rights to Atlas Shrugged, one of the most well-known and divisive (not to mention longest) novels of the 20th century, in 1993 for $1 million. Evidently the rights are close to expiration and so, this spring, he decided the time was right to go ahead with the film. Sans script, director, or cast. Why sweat the small stuff?

Since then Aglialoro, who intends to bring the book to screen in three parts, has commissioned a script by famed writer Bryan O'Toole — you must recognize his name? He is responsible for such masterpieces as Cemetery Gates and Evilution. Aglialoro has also brought on the directing powerhouse Paul Johansson. If you're not a One Tree Hill fan, you might remember Johansson when he played Steve's nemesis on Beverly Hills 90210, or perhaps as one of the guys in that memorable series of Diet Coke commercials? Think hard, it'll come to you.

Johansson is also slated to play John Galt. Of course he is.

If you can't see it, click here to watch Johansson deliver and drink some diet coke.

I did say million dollar production. That's right. A whole five million dollars. To compare, the production budget for Juno was estimated at around seven million.

Angelina Jolie, when asked by Cinematical.com about the movie (not this production, to be clear, just the movie adaptation in general) had this to say: "the thing with Atlas is just, we all feel that it's one of those projects where if you can't do it right, you really can't touch it." Unless you're a fitness equipment manufacturer, that is. Then, apparently, just doing it is good enough. If only he were making a Nike commercial.

In 1949, when Ayn Rand's earlier novel, The Fountainhead, was brought to the silver screen, King Vidor (five Oscar nominations) directed, Patricia Neal, Gary Cooper and Raymond Massey starred, and Warner Brothers produced. Oh, yeah, and Ayn Rand herself wrote the screenplay. According to the producer, Henry Blanke, Ayn Rand said "she would blow up the Warner Brothers lot if we changed one word of her beautiful dialogue. And we believed her. Even Jack Warner believed her. He gave her a cigar.”

Too bad she's not around now.

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