JJPierce

Atlas Shrugged movie redux

57 posts in this topic

Just came across this:

http://thefilmstage.com/2010/05/27/the-cur...atlas-shrugged/

My first reaction is: who the hell is Stephen Polk?

My second reaction is, why does he deny looking for star power when his producer is looking for Maggie Gyllenhall or Charlize Theron?

Nothing inherently wrong with star power. But I've thought for some time that what an ATLAS SHRUGGED movie needs most is the equivalent of a Peter Jackson, who could do for the novel what Jackson did for THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

Here's an example of what I mean. Maybe I've mentioned it before, but if so it's buried in an old thread.

There's a scene in THE LORD OF THE RINGS where, after the Quest has been fulfilled, the men of Gondor seat Frodo and Samwise on thrones and praise them with great praise. It's a moving scene, but not cinematic. Jackson instead has a scene on the battlement of Gondor where the hobbits make to bow to the King and he tells them, "You bow to no one" -- and leads his men in bowing to them. Jackson thus captures the essence to Tolkien.

If Polk can't capture the essence of Rand in the same manner, the movie will be a travesty.

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Just came across this:

http://thefilmstage.com/2010/05/27/the-cur...atlas-shrugged/

My first reaction is: who the hell is Stephen Polk?

My second reaction is, why does he deny looking for star power when his producer is looking for Maggie Gyllenhall or Charlize Theron?

Nothing inherently wrong with star power. But I've thought for some time that what an ATLAS SHRUGGED movie needs most is the equivalent of a Peter Jackson, who could do for the novel what Jackson did for THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

[...]

If Polk can't capture the essence of Rand in the same manner, the movie will be a travesty.

My sentiments exactly - at least for now.

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He'd have to be better than the bozos who seem to be working on the project now.

Not that it would matter to them, but my wife came up with a casting idea. Not for one of the heroes, but one of the villains. Remember Gregory Itzin, who played President Charles "I am not a shlub" Logan on 24?

Too old for James Taggart. But which of the others would people here see him for?

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Writer Brian Patrick O'Toole, from the Internet Movie Database:

He made his first foray into film under the wing of prolific schlockmeister Fred Olen Ray (Phantom Empire/Cyclone/Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers) - serving as assistant producer on 1994's "Mind Twister". This Richard Roundtree (Shaft) and Telly Savalas (Kojak) vehicle may not have set the world alight, but it did put Brian on track for a very successful career as a producer. His first feature came in the shape of supernatural slasher "Sleepstalker" - a film that gave him the distinction of being one of the earliest filmmakers to use computer generated characters.

Brian's first taste of major success came when he joined with David E. Allen at Kismet Entertainment to co-produce the cult classic "Dog Soldiers". Following the film's critical and commercial success, he stayed with the company to co-produce a string of other films; including action thriller "Death Valley" (AKA "Mojave"), controversial drama "Neo Ned" and ghost story "Boo". Before his departure from Kismet, he had the opportunity to make his screen-writing debut with the gory creature feature "Cemetery Gates".

Brian soon teamed with actor/producer Eric Peter-Kaiser in Black Gate Entertainment where he wrote and produced the 'old-school' horror trilogy of "Evilution", "Basement Jack" and "The Necropolitan".

Though not yet a household name, Brian Patrick O'Toole has shown himself to be a passionate, talented and hardworking filmmaker. With an impressive track-record, a wealth of gruesome ideas, and a real connection with horror fans - he may prove himself to be one of the most creative and ambitious workers in independent horror today.

Who knows, maybe he rose to the occasion. Has anybody here seen any part of his screenplay? Aglialoro has had a string of screenwriters write treatments. And this is the last word. After seeing the havoc that Sam Raimi (another horror writer) committed against Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, I am not optimistic, either. A soap star as director and John Galt himself. Dagny is played by Taylor Schilling, star of Mercy, which I've never seen, starred in episodes with titles like "There is no room for you on my ass", "Too much attitude and not enough underwear", and "That crazy bitch was right". OK, she didn't write the scripts, but again... not terribly encouraging.

Maybe this whole little team will rise to the occasion, if Rand's words are still there on the page and will make it to the screen. Then again, $5 million dollars for a feature? Serenity was $39 million, which was considered a modest budget. Maybe they'll be using a Flip cam, or an iPhone ("What? Look, I can't talk right now, I'm shooting a movie with this phone").

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Looks like they're using a RED ONE, which is not a bad camera, as far as I can tell from this production clip:

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Looks like they're using a RED ONE, which is not a bad camera, as far as I can tell from this production clip:

Well, I don't know squat about cameras, but I know the best camera in the world can't make a good movie out of a bad script and a bad cast led by a bad director. I can't say I'm impressed by what little I see of the scene, any more than I am by the track records of the principals. With such a tiny budget, is all the "action" going to take place on CNN sets? It's hard to imagine how they can afford do anything on the epic scale of the novel.

I'm always prepared to be surprised. Maybe there's more than meets the eye to this production. Maybe the principals will "rise to the occasion." But I'm not holding my breath. And I don't think a bad movie will help Objectivism, even if some of Rand's words make it to the screen. Long before Peter Jackson, Ralph Bakshi started an animated version of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. It generated such a bad reaction (the first installment turned out to be the last) that, according to Lester del Rey, who was fantasy editor at Ballantine Books at the time, it actually hurt sales of the books.

But if this version of Atlas Shrugged does crash and burn, perhaps there'll be the equivalent of a Peter Jackson version down the road. Perhaps.

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Yes--where are people like Fritz Lang, or even D.W. Griffith (without his very bad philosophy)? Those are the kind of directors we need. And maybe screenwriters like Ernest Lehman.

Maybe Peter Jackson could do Atlas Shrugged. There are certain works--like Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars--that I would really like to see him do. But perhaps it's best, as implied by a few of the posts here, to just not count on anything currently being made. In the meantime, we simply read Atlas and discuss it with people who are interested or curious.

I'll bet that can do more than one might think.

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I just want to add that, in style and spirit at times, a model for the making of Atlas Shrugged might be the original 1951 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

In that film, you had an inidividual man--Klaatu--coming to Earth to arrange a way for him to communicate a very important message to the whole world, at the same time. John Galt, essentially, set out to do the same thing (except that Galt's message was entirely pro-Man, pro-reason and certainly pro-self-defense and pro-defense-of-a-free-nation!). And there was some mysterioso about Klaatu; remember the scene when he arrives at the boarding house? He enters the home without making a sound, and when people there notice him, he is shown in silhouette. It reminds me of the scene in Atlas when Dagny is exhausted and staying late into the night in her temporary office away from Taggart Transcontinental, and as she is wondering about the mysterious person who is taking all the productive minds of the world away from her, she looks up from her desk to see, through the frosted glass of her office door, a hand reaching for the doorknob, hesitating, and then the man whose hand it was deciding not to enter.

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What does the $5 million budget get them?

Well, watch for the Lionel logo on any train cars. :D And they could run the tracks into a burrow representing the Taggart Tunnel. :D

My five-year old grandson shows a great mechanical aptitude. They could hire him to build the sets out of Lego blocks. :)

"Seriously," though, some people saying that this "production" is just a ploy to extend Aglialoro's rights, comparable to a cheap 1993 version of THE FANTASTIC FOUR that was filmed but never released:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fantastic_Four_(film)

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"Seriously," though, some people saying that this "production" is just a ploy to extend Aglialoro's rights, comparable to a cheap 1993 version of THE FANTASTIC FOUR that was filmed but never released:

That's easily the best thing I've read on this thread. What a shame if this isn't what's going on.

The lowest budget film I can think of that featured stars, had good word of mouth while it was in the theaters, was worth watching, and whose tight budget didn't distract me as I was watching it is Open Range. According to a quick Google search, it had a $22M production budget. (I don't remember the exact number, but I do remember hearing on the DVD that the promotional budget for Open Range was a multiple of its production budget.)

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Well, I don't know squat about cameras, but I know the best camera in the world can't make a good movie out of a bad script and a bad cast led by a bad director. I can't say I'm impressed by what little I see of the scene, any more than I am by the track records of the principals. With such a tiny budget, is all the "action" going to take place on CNN sets? It's hard to imagine how they can afford do anything on the epic scale of the novel.

I'm always prepared to be surprised. Maybe there's more than meets the eye to this production. Maybe the principals will "rise to the occasion." But I'm not holding my breath. And I don't think a bad movie will help Objectivism, even if some of Rand's words make it to the screen. Long before Peter Jackson, Ralph Bakshi started an animated version of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. It generated such a bad reaction (the first installment turned out to be the last) that, according to Lester del Rey, who was fantasy editor at Ballantine Books at the time, it actually hurt sales of the books.

But if this version of Atlas Shrugged does crash and burn, perhaps there'll be the equivalent of a Peter Jackson version down the road. Perhaps.

Absolutely right about the camera not making the film. It's the directing, acting, editing and music score that are far more important.

Geeze, I really wish my production company were involved in this. At least I would devote myself fully to the assignment, not do this half-assed waste of time that these guys appear to be doing.

I'm not encouraged by what I saw in that clip. The actors are too young. The setting is too modern. The whole 'vibe' of Rand is missing here.

The film should be more like "Changeling" with the setting and cinematography (Angelina Jolie portrayed a person that made me realize she was capable of doing a Dagney Taggart type character).

This attempt is sickening, not just because it's so bad, but because it will mis-represent AS.

I hope there was something in the rights transfer agreement about maintaining the integrity of the novel.

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I hope there was something in the rights transfer agreement about maintaining the integrity of the novel.

In your experience, what commonly used legal mechanisms could be used to assure that the book's integrity is maintained in the film adaptation?

How, specifically, does one neutralize "artistic judgement" claims and the like in order to protect the story?

How often do producers buy the rights to a novel without assuring that they have final say on the script and/or what that script becomes?

How often do producers grant final say, or any serious say, for that matter, to people outside the movie industry?

Even if such provisions were put into the contract, there needs to be legal precedent to enforce it effectively.

Is there such a tradition in either probate or the courts?

What would it cost to push the issue all the way, both in cash and time?

My thanks in advance.

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I hope there was something in the rights transfer agreement about maintaining the integrity of the novel.

I think I read somewhere that Dr. Peikoff sold the rights, no strings attached, long, long ago.

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I think this was the sticking point for the last 30 years, possibly longer, (integrity of the script) which is why the film project never materialized.

If Peikoff sold the rights 'no strings', then I guess he's tired of dealing with it and said "good riddance, let's just take the money and whatever comes of it, so be it". There DOES come a point in life where one compromises--everyone has their price.

Given that, though, it IS curious that someone was so interested in this plot. All I can say is to sit tight and brace yourselves!

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If Peikoff sold the rights 'no strings', then I guess he's tired of dealing with it and said "good riddance, let's just take the money and whatever comes of it, so be it". There DOES come a point in life where one compromises--everyone has their price.

Given that, though, it IS curious that someone was so interested in this plot. All I can say is to sit tight and brace yourselves!

Dr. Peikoff was acting on Ayn Rand's request. She wanted him to see if he could have the film done with his script approval for a certain period of time. After that, his only choice would be to allow the copyright to expire -- with anyone able to make the movie -- or to option it out to someone he thought MIGHT make a competent, if not philosophically correct, film.

I agree with JJPierce. If Aglioloro "makes a movie" for $5 million, he keeps the movie rights he paid $1 million for. Then he can let the movie rot in the can and resell the rights, now worth close to $20 million, to a REAL producer for a $14 million profit.

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Hmmm, Capitalism at work, though maybe not perhaps in the way WE would like to see. :D

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After that, his only choice would be to allow the copyright to expire -- with anyone able to make the movie -- or to option it out to someone he thought MIGHT make a competent, if not philosophically correct, film.

How would the copyright expire? In the absence of a different contract, isn't any copyright in the movie rights simply an inherent part of the copyright in the book itself? How does optioning the movie rights extend copyright (which, if I'm not mistaken, will last until 2052--70 years after the author's death)?

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How would the copyright expire? In the absence of a different contract, isn't any copyright in the movie rights simply an inherent part of the copyright in the book itself? How does optioning the movie rights extend copyright (which, if I'm not mistaken, will last until 2052--70 years after the author's death)?

The old, prior copyright law applies to Atlas. I heard the copyright expires in 2014.

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How would the copyright expire? In the absence of a different contract, isn't any copyright in the movie rights simply an inherent part of the copyright in the book itself? How does optioning the movie rights extend copyright (which, if I'm not mistaken, will last until 2052--70 years after the author's death)?

The old, prior copyright law applies to Atlas. I heard the copyright expires in 2014.

These sources would seem to indicate it is in 2052, or 2053 (although for a different reason I thought--the formula is 95 years after publication, rather than 70 years after death--although due to sheer coincidence, it is the same year in this case):

http://www.sunsteinlaw.com/practices/copyr...t/flowchart.htm

http://librivox.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=11406

The first link is a general flow chart for copyright duration. The second list of books includes Atlas Shrugged specifically as expiring in 2053 (though probably just calculated from the flow chart).

But, I don't know if there might be special circumstances in this case.

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Well, there is an interview (part 1) with the film's director here. I know absolutely nothing about Johansson (or anyone else connected with the production, for that matter). While he (Johansson) may be familiar with the source material, he doesn't seem to understand what Miss Rand was all about. AS a Nietzschean novel? ;)

I wish them the best of luck anyway.

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Well, there is an interview (part 1) with the film's director here. I know absolutely nothing about Johansson (or anyone else connected with the production, for that matter). While he (Johansson) may be familiar with the source material, he doesn't seem to understand what Miss Rand was all about. AS a Nietzschean novel? ;)

I wish them the best of luck anyway.

These are the worst parts:

The director:

And the laissez faire capitalism she was preaching doesn’t really work either, to be honest with you. People say it does, but that relies on Rousseau’s natural man theory -

and this little gem:

Rand uses a lot of things like good and evil in her text but I don’t think she really believed those ideas.

!!!

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These are the worst parts:

The director:

And the laissez faire capitalism she was preaching doesn't really work either, to be honest with you. People say it does, but that relies on Rousseau's natural man theory -

and this little gem:

Rand uses a lot of things like good and evil in her text but I don't think she really believed those ideas.

!!!

What is ironic in this interview is that the interviewer, Govindi Murty (co-owner with her husband Jason Apuzzo) is more informed and sympathetic to Ayn Rand and Obejctivism than the 'Atlas Shrugged' director she is interviewing.
Best Film winners at the Liberty Film Festival [produced by Libertas] included "In the Face of Evil: Reagan's War in Word and Deed," "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," and "Border War." The LFF is also committed to celebrating Hollywood's classic movie heritage, and hosted tributes to directors Cecil B. DeMille, Raoul Walsh, John Ford, and Fritz Lang, to actors John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, and Charlton Heston, and to novelist Ayn Rand -- link

The key quote from Paul Johannson

Because there's a reason it wasn't made in 53 years. You know? And that's because nobody could decide what this movie was about.
No, Paul, it's because there are few people who want a movie made about what this book is about and many who who wouldn't go anywhere near it. He's projecting, it's Johannson who doesn't understand what it's about.

Both the interviewers and the director appear to be fans of Ayn Rand in a 'gut level', 'feel good' way, which means they like it but they really don't understand the philosophy or understand that Rand was so prescient because of the 'black and white' nature of the issues to which Paul Johansson objects. Maybe he's cut the entire sub-plot of "The Wet Nurse" -- aka "Non-Absolute" -- as irrelevant. He appears to have slept through that part.

But, with all the bad, even mediocre thinking displayed in this interview, it does sound like there is an appropriate admiration for the powerful material and its author. If Ayn Rand's works make it on the screen relatively intact, it could still make a powerful statement and encourage interest in the novel.

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