After more than 50 years, Ayn Rand’s seminal novel and ode to free market capitalism “Atlas Shrugged” is finally hitting the big screen this weekend, in the first of a planned trilogy of movies. Independently produced and distributed by entrepreneur John Aglialoro, chairman of UM Holdings Inc, the film “Atlas Shrugged, Part 1″ was budgeted under $10 million and includes a cast of little-known actors (newcomer Taylor Schilling stars as the powerful female industrialist Dagny Taggart).
At one time, Algialoro, who optioned the book’s rights 18 years ago, had struck up a partnership with Lionsgate Films to make a version of the movie, possibly as a TV miniseries for the new EPIX cable outfit. But when the project dragged on without getting the green light, Algialoro turned to entertainment attorney and executive producer Harmon Kaslow to get the film made quickly before the rights to the book reverted back to the Ayn Rand estate. Shot in just 26 days and completed several months later, the entire film’s creation, from green light to this week’s release, took about a year, according to Kaslow.
Reaching out to conservative organizations such as the Cato Institute, FreedomWorks and Tea Party groups, the filmmakers are actively courting a target audience that they believe Hollywood would not so willingly endorse.
“We’re lucky that the relevance of the book to what’s going on today has steadily increased over time,” says Kaslow, referring to some conservatives who believe that the Obama Administration has emphasized government solutions to economic problems. “So that’s made the film more accessible and more embraced by the various political factions that prescribe to Ayn Rands’ philosophy. And we haven’t resisted their embracing it.”