Ayn Rand Atlas Society

Film Company to Bring "Atlas Shrugged" to the Screen

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, May 13, 2003—The Atlas Society is pleased to announce that a new project to film Atlas Shrugged has just been launched. Crusader Entertainment, LLC, a Beverly Hills-based production company, announced on May 12 that it had acquired the film rights to Ayn Rand's great novel. The company also announced that it has signed veteran screenwriter James V. Hart, whose film credits include the ambitious adaptation of Carl Sagan's science fiction novel Contact, to write the screenplay.

"We are so thrilled to have gotten the rights to such a tremendous work," said Howard Baldwin, Crusader's President and CEO. "It is a great story that has equal parts mystery and romance and also celebrates the limitless potential of the human spirit. The time is right to bring this ageless story to the big screen. James V. Hart is the perfect screenwriter to do it." Added Hart, "Ayn Rand created extraordinary events and powerful characters over fifty years ago in her visionary novel, that are suddenly coming frighteningly true all around us every single day. This is a big, important challenge as a screenwriter and a great privilege."

Atlas Shrugged is the story of heroes who fight to preserve their world, and of their secret enemy: a man who declared that he would stop the motor of the world—and did. Set in near-future America, the novel depicts a nation whose economy is collapsing due to the growth of dictatorial government power, and the inexplicable disappearance of the country's leading innovators and industrialists. Beautiful, brilliant railroad executive Dagny Taggart is on a desperate quest to save her company—but first must solve the mystery behind the enigmatic question, "Who is John Galt?"

Rand's complex philosophical thriller dramatizes her controversial philosophy of "reason, individualism, and capitalism," known as Objectivism. She portrays the producers--including wealthy, successful industrialists--as moral heroes who are being exploited by a society of parasites. Since publication in 1957, Atlas Shrugged has attracted legions of admirers and has sold many millions of copies. Over 120,000 copies were purchased in 2001 alone, more than fifty years since its release. Its hotly debated ideas have become the basis for the libertarian political movement. They are often included in college courses and textbooks. The Objectivist Center [www.objectivistcenter.org] of Poughkeepsie, NY, the creator of this site, is one of many organizations that are developing and promoting Rand's philosophy. Today, the book is considered a modern American classic, and in 1999 a Modern Library reader survey ranked it as the number one book published in the 20th century.

Yet adapting the epic novel for the screen has proved to be a challenge of equally epic proportions. Atlas Shrugged is one of the few major novels of the 20th century that have never been filmed. Since the 1970s, three distinct projects have made it as far as the contract stage, and at least six complete screenplays have been drafted. But so far none has even been cast, let alone filmed and released.

In 1972, Al Ruddy, producer of The Godfather, negotiated to buy the film rights from Rand, but the deal fell through when she insisted upon final editorial approval. In the late 1970s, Rand signed a contract with Jaffe Productions and NBC for a TV miniseries, based on a script by Sterling Silliphant, who also wrote In the Heat of the Night. That deal was cancelled by NBC head Fred Silverman.

In 2000, Turner Network Television began work on a cable TV miniseries, with Al Ruddy producing. But TNT went through a wrenching process of reorganization when its parent company, Time-Warner, merged with America Online. TNT first cut its financial commitment, then withdrew from the project altogether. Ruddy reconceived the project as a feature film, but did not succeed in lining up talent or financing before his contract expired.

The new project was sparked when Crusader executives saw a September 2002 USA Today front-page feature about Atlas Shrugged's influence in the business community. Baldwin noticed the name of an old acquaintance: Ed Snider, head of Comcast Spectacor in Philadelphia, and a trustee of The Objectivist Center. Snider had previously held the film rights to the novel. When Baldwin contacted him, Snider put him in touch with John Aglialoro, also a trustee of The Objectivist Center, and current holder of the rights. Aglialoro, CEO and chairman of Cybex International, a manufacturer of premier fitness equipment, will serve as the film's executive producer.

"After having brought to the screen her book The Fountainhead in the late 1940s, of course Ayn Rand dreamed of seeing a first-rate movie made from her masterpiece novel, Atlas Shrugged," Aglialoro said. "I'm most pleased to see this endeavor now placed in joint collaboration with such a noteworthy management team from Crusader Entertainment."

Crusader Entertainment, LLC, is a diversified entertainment company that develops and produces a wide array of projects with universal themes geared to audiences of all ages.

James V. Hart's writing/producing credits include: Hook, directed by Steven Spielberg; Bram Stocker's Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola; Contact, directed by Robert Zemeckis; Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, directed by Kenneth Branagh as producer with Coppola and John Veitch; Jack and The Beanstalk: The Real Story, directed by Brian Henson, a Jim Henson/CBS mini-series; and Tuck Everlasting, directed by Jay Russell for Disney.

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