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Atlas Shrugged


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#41 Tyler

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Posted 21 February 2011 - 04:26 PM



#42 Rachel Anne

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 11:32 AM

Interview with the producer, John Aglialoro:

http://dailycaller.c...glialoro/print/

6. Have you decided how you’ll tackle John Galt’s epic speech in part three?

Well, I’m looking at a number of different things. Having John Galt give that speech, it might be in a casino environment. It might be that he is at a mountain retreat, rather than being where he is captured, not…that violent scene at the end. But we’re going to take a look. It doesn’t have to copy just that.

No, it absolutely will be a concentrate of entertaining words with a total, philosophic…But, you know, part three could be a musical…


Edited by bowen, 05 March 2011 - 11:33 AM.


#43 John Drew

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 11:50 AM

Just got around to watching that clip. That is awful. That is ... Days of Our Lives awful.

edit:

And now that I've gone back and read the interview that Bowen linked to, I understand why that clip was so awful. Can anyone decipher this?

9. Can you describe one or two of the toughest decisions you had to make during the production of this film?

I’m not going to say it’s simple, because it wasn’t. First of all, the first decision was part one is only 27 percent of the entire novel, so I only had to worry about 27 percent. That takes a lot of the stress away. And then in rereading each chapter of part one, you sort of make little notes about what will be a scene and what will not be a scene. What you see in the movie was but let me give an example of a scene that didn’t get in there, but could’ve been in there. I broke it down into, and Brian O’Toole wrote the fundamental script. I gave him the direction with it. But he wrote the basic script and I wrote a lot of the beginning and a lot of the end and stuff in the middle and we both crystallized in phrases along the way. But basically you read through it and there’s maybe 33 perspective scenes and only 24 make it.


The entire interview is like this.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah, 05 March 2011 - 01:10 PM.


#44 Rachel Anne

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 01:01 PM

I admit, having heard the idea, I am now desperate to hear John Galt's 90 page speech sung. Hopefully they will do it as a full musical number with dancers. Perhaps SDG or someone else with a talent for verse could try to give us a sample. Here is the opening if anyone wants to give it a try:

For twelve years, you have been asking: Who is John Galt? This is John Galt speaking. I am the man who loves his life. I am the man who does not sacrifice his love or his values. I am the man who has deprived you of victims and thus has destroyed your world, and if you wish to know why you are perishing-you who dread knowledge-I am the man who will now tell you.

You have heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis. You have said it yourself, half in fear, half in hope that the words had no meaning. You have cried that man’s sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you demanded. Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster. In the name of a return to morality, you have sacrificed all those evils which you held as the cause of your plight. You have sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to faith. You have sacrificed wealth to need. You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial. You have sacrificed happiness to duty.


I'm not sure which musical genre would work best. Perhaps not country and western...

Edited by bowen, 05 March 2011 - 01:02 PM.


#45 Jason Panella

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 03:32 PM

And now that I've gone back and read the interview that Bowen linked to, I understand why that clip was so awful. Can anyone decipher this?


Yikes. It reminds me of the "Ask the..." section on the Onion, where questions and responses don't mesh up at all. I don't think the interview with Aglialoro was meant to be humorous, though.

#46 Rachel Anne

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 04:13 PM

2. Now that it’s about to be released next month, how do you feel about the movie you produced?

Well, it’s not so much what I think. Like I said, it’s more important what people think who I respect and know the project well. After the showing on Thursday, I walked over to Nathaniel Branden and also Barbara Branden was there and she saw it, and I was going to ask them what they thought, which meant a lot to me. Before I could ask for their question, I saw tears in their eyes, so I knew that I didn’t have to ask the question.


He should have asked. Judging by the clip we saw, those tears might not have meant what he thought they meant.

Edited by bowen, 06 March 2011 - 04:14 PM.


#47 M. Leary

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 10:27 AM

Ugh. re: the clip, what is that stock quote about evil being banal? Q.E.D.

#48 Darren H

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 11:08 AM

I'm generally opposed to kitsch and the "so bad it's good" aesthetic, but, based on that interview, I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy watching Atlas Shrugged: The Musical.

#49 John Drew

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 11:40 PM



2. Now that it’s about to be released next month, how do you feel about the movie you produced?

Well, it’s not so much what I think. Like I said, it’s more important what people think who I respect and know the project well. After the showing on Thursday, I walked over to Nathaniel Branden and also Barbara Branden was there and she saw it, and I was going to ask them what they thought, which meant a lot to me. Before I could ask for their question, I saw tears in their eyes, so I knew that I didn’t have to ask the question.


He should have asked. Judging by the clip we saw, those tears might not have meant what he thought they meant.


You may have hit the nail on the head... Here come the reviews...


Variety says -

A monument of American literature is shaved down to a spindly toothpick of a movie in "Atlas Shrugged," a project that reportedly once caught the eye of Angelina Jolie, Faye Dunaway and Clint Eastwood. Part one of a trilogy that may never see completion, this hasty, low-budget adaptation would have Ayn Rand spinning in her grave, considering how it violates the author's philosophy by allowing opportunists to exploit another's creative achievement -- in this case, hers. Targeting roughly 200 screens, pic goes out hitched to a grassroots marketing campaign, hoping to break-even via by-popular-demand bookings and potential Tea Party support.

Rather than lose the rights to Rand's novel, producer John Aglialoro enlisted co-writer Brian Patrick O'Toole, dashed off a screenplay and rushed the project into production. Made with the permission but not the participation of the Rand estate, the result cuts corners in every respect. Rather than try to condense everything into a tight, two-hour feature, Aglialoro and fellow producer Harmon Kaslow tackle the book's first third only, hiring relatively inexperienced helmer Paul Johansson (originally tapped to play John Galt, the shadowy, trenchcoat-wearing figure seen cornering billionaires in back alleys) to deliver their vision after Stephen Polk was fired....

....With neither the time nor the budget to find appropriate matches to play the political and big-business titans who populate the plot, Aglialoro settled for an ensemble of unfamiliar thesps, the most recognizable of whom are character actors Michael Lerner and Jon Polito (both of "Barton Fink" fame). Rand fans have spent decades fantasy-casting the role of Dagny Taggart, the tough-as-nails railroad tycoon who serves as "Atlas Shrugged's" primary earth mover, only to see her remade as a generic business-suit Barbie, unassertively played by pretty blonde TV actress Taylor Schilling (NBC's "Mercy")....

....Since boardroom chats and business dinners are more affordable to shoot than flashbacks and setpieces, "Atlas Shrugged" becomes a series of polite policy conversations interrupted by Fox News-style updates whenever exposition is called for, as in a long prologue that unnecessarily explains why a story re-set in 2016 still relies so heavily on railroad travel. But even this stuffy, shut-in approach would be reasonable if only the dialogue crackled and the tempers flared from time to time, as they do on nearly every one of Rand's 1,200 pages....

The impecunious producers do manage a few key railroad-rebuilding exteriors and wisely commission visual effects for the new line's virgin run, as well as the film's climactic oil-well fires. But what the film really needs is suspense, not spectacle -- some indication of where the story is headed, so auds have reason to engage. Even Rand's iconic question, "Who is John Galt?" can't supply much mystery to a plot in which the mysterious character's presence is barely felt....



From The Hollywood Reporter -

"There were a few rare men of talent around her, but they were becoming rarer every year,” it is lamented about the circle surrounding Ayn Rand's ultra-capable heroine Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged, and the complaint certainly applies in the case of this botched partial screen adaptation of the mammoth novel that has materialized 54 years after the book's publication. Although the recent surge in annual sales of the revered and despised author's fictional manifesto arguably testifies to its continuing relevance, the central battle between fearsomely independent corporate mavericks and hostile big government has been updated in a half-baked, unconvincing way that's exacerbated by button-pushing TV-style direction, threadbare production values and blah performances except for that of Taylor Schilling in the central role. Set to bow in roughly 200 theaters on April 15, this independently financed-and-distributed rendition of the book's first third is unlikely to generate sufficient box office to inspire production of the final two installments (the 1,000-plus-page novel is divided into three sections of 10 chapters apiece), although the producers could conceivably forge ahead anyway if their pockets are deep enough. A TV miniseries with a high-powered cast--several were planned at various points over the past four decades--would have been a preferable way to go with this didactic, sometimes risible but still powerful material.



#50 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 08:47 AM

Variety says -

A monument of American literature is shaved down to a spindly toothpick of a movie ... But even this stuffy, shut-in approach would be reasonable if only the dialogue crackled and the tempers flared from time to time, as they do on nearly every one of Rand's 1,200 pages...

From The Hollywood Reporter -

... several were planned at various points over the past four decades--would have been a preferable way to go with this didactic, sometimes risible but still powerful material.

It'll be too easy for all the reviews to just blame the filmmakers for this. They're all just automatically assuming that Rand's book was actually good to begin with.

#51 John Drew

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 11:13 AM


Variety says -

A monument of American literature is shaved down to a spindly toothpick of a movie ... But even this stuffy, shut-in approach would be reasonable if only the dialogue crackled and the tempers flared from time to time, as they do on nearly every one of Rand's 1,200 pages...

From The Hollywood Reporter -

... several were planned at various points over the past four decades--would have been a preferable way to go with this didactic, sometimes risible but still powerful material.

It'll be too easy for all the reviews to just blame the filmmakers for this. They're all just automatically assuming that Rand's book was actually good to begin with.



Well, it's not as if there aren't examples of good films - even great films - being made from badly written, or just plain bad stories. The Godfather easily comes to mind. That's a horribly written book, but one that has a compelling story that works much better on screen. Another I'd site is Rand's The Fountainhead - I couldn't stand the book, but I caught the film late one night and was completely drawn in. And even though I didn't care for much of Atlas Shrugged the novel, I do think there is enough material in there to make a film worthy of some good discussion, whether you agree with Rand's philosophy or not.

What looks to be the problem with film version of Atlas Shrugged (and this is just from the reviews and interviews I've read, not on seeing the film) is that you have a lot of people involved with the production who hold the story too close to their hearts, and feel that every bit of story that Rand wrote needs to be put on screen. It appears they don't know what to let go of, and working on the limited budget they have, they really should be paring down the book to essentials. This is why the first two Harry Potter films don't work for me - too much of JK Rowling's hand in the mix during production. But once JK Rowling stepped back a bit for Prisoner of Azkaban, I finally saw a film that involved me with those characters.

Looking back through some threads, I did come across one topic about films that are better than their source material.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah, 10 April 2011 - 11:21 AM.


#52 Darrel Manson

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 11:19 AM

Story on front page of L.A. Times today.

Edited by Darrel Manson, 10 April 2011 - 11:20 AM.


#53 NBooth

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 12:44 PM

Well, it's not as if there aren't examples of good films - even great films - being made from badly written, or just plain bad stories. The Godfather easily comes to mind. That's a horribly written book, but one that has a compelling story that works much better on screen. Another I'd site is Rand's The Fountainhead - I couldn't stand the book, but I caught the film late one night and was completely drawn in. And even though I didn't care for much of Atlas Shrugged the novel, I do think there is enough material in there to make a film worthy of some good discussion, whether you agree with Rand's philosophy or not.


Didn't Hitchcock famously prefer adapting mediocre novels so that he could change stuff around and not get accused of butchering a masterpiece?

#54 Tyler

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 01:53 PM

Well, it's not as if there aren't examples of good films - even great films - being made from badly written, or just plain bad stories. The Godfather easily comes to mind. That's a horribly written book, but one that has a compelling story that works much better on screen. Another I'd site is Rand's The Fountainhead - I couldn't stand the book, but I caught the film late one night and was completely drawn in. And even though I didn't care for much of Atlas Shrugged the novel, I do think there is enough material in there to make a film worthy of some good discussion, whether you agree with Rand's philosophy or not.


Didn't Hitchcock famously prefer adapting mediocre novels so that he could change stuff around and not get accused of butchering a masterpiece?


If he was still around today, he would've been all over the Twilight movies.

#55 NBooth

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 02:15 PM


Well, it's not as if there aren't examples of good films - even great films - being made from badly written, or just plain bad stories. The Godfather easily comes to mind. That's a horribly written book, but one that has a compelling story that works much better on screen. Another I'd site is Rand's The Fountainhead - I couldn't stand the book, but I caught the film late one night and was completely drawn in. And even though I didn't care for much of Atlas Shrugged the novel, I do think there is enough material in there to make a film worthy of some good discussion, whether you agree with Rand's philosophy or not.


Didn't Hitchcock famously prefer adapting mediocre novels so that he could change stuff around and not get accused of butchering a masterpiece?


If he was still around today, he would've been all over the Twilight movies.


And why not? It could be like To Catch a Thief crossed with Psycho. :P

#56 Christian

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 02:05 PM

Some odd reactions out there to this one. I'd love to hear from anyone who's seen the film.

I don't know much about the book and have only a slight interest in the film, but given that the movie is targeted to conservatives and might have follow-ups on the way (right? doesn't the filmmaker have rights to make another two films?), the fate of this first film interests me.

A week ago, everything I had heard indicated that the film is a bust, but the sense of disappointment was wrapped up in the low-budget approach that resulted in little-known actors taking lead roles. Now, maybe those actors give poor performances, but it was hard to tell if that was the case, or if the lack of star power was an overriding disappointment.

Yesterday I saw positive reviews from a couple of Right-leaning columnists. They both went long in discussing the ideas of the story without going into much detail about the execution of those ideas via the film medium. Meanwhile, with Paul Ryan's budget in the news, and his love of Rand's work, I've seen a few Left-leaning columnists blasting Rand and film in the context of broader stories on the budget battles.

So it's been a little difficult to sort out the film's quality, or lack there of, from reviewers who seem to have a stake in larger cultural battles. And, let's face it, even full-time film critics bring political and cultural ideas to their reviews; they just aren't as obvious about it.

Anyone who's seen the film want to jump in?

Edited by Christian, 16 April 2011 - 02:06 PM.


#57 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 06:01 PM

I don't know much about the book and have only a slight interest in the film, but given that the movie is targeted to conservatives and might have follow-ups on the way (right? doesn't the filmmaker have rights to make another two films?), the fate of this first film interests me.

I haven't seen the film and I won't see the film. This is because ... (1) I'm personally a die-hard political conservative with even a few libertarian streaks (thanks to taking a couple law & economics classes in law school from Walter Williams). But I could care less about Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged, period. Thus, since I am apparently the filmmakers' target audience, I can guarantee the film will fail. Rand and American conservatism have never exactly got along. (2) I've actually read Atlas Shrugged in college. After reading it, I concluded that one could make a more interesting film adaptation of my college chemistry textbook than of Rand's greatest novel.

Yesterday I saw positive reviews from a couple of Right-leaning columnists. They both went long in discussing the ideas of the story without going into much detail about the execution of those ideas via the film medium. Meanwhile, with Paul Ryan's budget in the news, and his love of Rand's work, I've seen a few Left-leaning columnists blasting Rand and film in the context of broader stories on the budget battles. So it's been a little difficult to sort out the film's quality, or lack there of, from reviewers who seem to have a stake in larger cultural battles. And, let's face it, even full-time film critics bring political and cultural ideas to their reviews; they just aren't as obvious about it.

Isn't rather difficult to keep politics out of your film review, when there are previews like this making the rounds?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DK7B6mAIhU0&feature=player_embedded#at=27

Ebert might be left leaning, but he still writes a pretty fun review -

I suspect only someone very familiar with Rand’s 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it. For the rest of us, it involves a series of business meetings in luxurious retro leather-and-brass board rooms and offices, and restaurants and bedrooms that look borrowed from a hotel no doubt known as the Robber Baron Arms.

During these meetings, everybody drinks. More wine is poured and sipped in this film than at a convention of oenophiliacs. There are conversations in English after which I sometimes found myself asking, "What did they just say?" The dialogue seems to have been ripped throbbing with passion from the pages of Investors’ Business Daily.



#58 M. Leary

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 06:17 PM

I haven't seen the film and I won't see the film. This is because ... (1) I'm personally a die-hard political conservative with even a few libertarian streaks (thanks to taking a couple law & economics classes in law school from Walter Williams). But I could care less about Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged, period. Thus, since I am apparently the filmmakers' target audience, I can guarantee the film will fail. Rand and American conservatism have never exactly got along. (2) I've actually read Atlas Shrugged in college. After reading it, I concluded that one could make a more interesting film adaptation of my college chemistry textbook than of Rand's greatest novel.


Nuts. I was looking forward to your response. Go online and download it, as that would be the Randian move. Then comment.

#59 Christian

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 07:47 PM

That preview is ridiculously overheated, but aren't all movie previews these days? The others don't include clips of the president, but ...

Google took me to a a site that's part of the movie's main website, I think, although the website title includes the words "box office mojo" in it, and the site tells me that the first-night gross "bodes well for the further release — if the film can keep drawing people at the current rate."

However, the actual Box Office Mojo daily report reads, "Meanwhile, Atlas Shrugged: Part I generated $683,000 at 300 locations. That was a modest start for the adaptation of the first third of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, particularly considering the media hype it received for its topicality and 'Tea Party' appeal."

I'm inclined to think the first statement is more accurate. If the film ends up with a per-screen weekend average of, say, $5,500 -- I'm not sure what the typical formula is for extrapolating Friday-night grosses into full weekend grosses -- then wouldn't that be perceived as a better than decent start? Yes, the film is playing on nearly 300 screens, not 30 screens, but any per-screen average over $5,000 -- even over $4,000 -- would be encouraging to the film's backers, I would think.

Edited by Christian, 16 April 2011 - 07:50 PM.


#60 Rachel Anne

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 09:44 PM

I'm inclined to think the first statement is more accurate. If the film ends up with a per-screen weekend average of, say, $5,500 -- I'm not sure what the typical formula is for extrapolating Friday-night grosses into full weekend grosses -- then wouldn't that be perceived as a better than decent start? Yes, the film is playing on nearly 300 screens, not 30 screens, but any per-screen average over $5,000 -- even over $4,000 -- would be encouraging to the film's backers, I would think.


The movie cost almost nothing to make (~$5M) by modern movie industry standards, so it doesn't have to make much. Generally a movie should make about double its production budget at the world-wide box office to be profitable. The big challenge here is going to be that the international box office is probably going to be next to nothing, so it will have to make pretty much all of its $10M or so domestically. Generally speaking, to reach $10M, a movie would need to have an opening weekend of at least $2.5M (more or less), which means an opening Friday close to $1M. Against that, $0.7M doesn't look too good, but if they can expand it into more theaters they might still get to $10M.

Really, to make part 2 a no-brainer, they would need it to do something like $20M at the box office. If it does $10M nobody has to feel bad about having made part 1, but whether they would want to roll the dice again would not be an obvious call. If it doesn't get to $10M, then part 2 really wouldn't make a lot of sense. (Of course, to do even part 1 at this budget didn't make sense except that it was the only chance to recoup the money paid for the rights.)

[Correction: I was estimating its budget from memory, but according to Box Office Mojo, it had a budget of $10M rather than $5M. Given that, it needs to make $20M after an opening weekend of $1.6M. They need to expand to have a shot, and, again according to Box Office Mojo, that is what they are planning to do. ]

Edited by bowen, 17 April 2011 - 08:31 PM.