10 questions with the producer of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ John Aglialoro

Some thought it might never happen. Others hoped it wouldn’t. But now John Aglialoro has done it. He has produced a cinematic adaptation of “Atlas Shrugged,” the philosopher Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, which will open in theaters nationwide on April 15 (yes, tax day).

“Since Ayn Rand was still alive, many of us had been hoping for a film version,” Edward Hudgins of the Atlas Society told The Daily Caller. “It’s one of the major books of the 20th century that was never made into a film. But after years of struggling with finicky stars and finicky studios, [Aglialoro] was able to pull it together.”

Written in 1957, “Atlas Shrugged” has sold somewhere between 7 and 8 million copies in the United States. In 2009, sales experienced a dramatic spike, selling half a million copies and remaining at the top of a variety of best seller lists.

It is only fitting then that a movie version would follow. Two years earlier, in 2007, rumors began circulating that Angelina Jolie had been cast already as the novel’s heroine, Dagny Taggart. Indeed, Lionsgate Entertainment produced a version of the movie starring Jolie, though it never went into production.

But in May of 2010, faced with losing the rights to the movie in just three months, Aglialoro went to work creating a version of “Atlas Shrugged” set in 2016 (where gas is $37.50 a gallon and the main mode of transportation is the railroad).

What resulted is a 102-minute long film — the first installment of a trilogy. The film is directed by Paul Johansson and stars Taylor Schilling as Dagny, Grant Bowler as Hank Rearden, and has the expected tag line of “Who is John Galt?” According to Aglialoro, it also cost about $20 million.

The movie has so far been met with mixed reviews by those who have seen a pre-screening

“[There] are countless scenes of rough, bleak dialogue that never seem to stay on the track,” wrote Timothy Farmer at The Film Stage. “This soon becomes the tone of the entire film: incomprehensible gibberish.”

But Barbara Branden, author of a biography on Rand, described it another way: “The movie is not so-so, it is not ok, it is not rather good — it is spectacularly good…The script is excellent, as is the acting.”

TheDC recently talked with John Aglialoro about the casting, the end result, and, yes, those violent sex scenes.

1. You had been holding on to the movie rights for over 15 years before “Atlas Shrugged” was finally made into a movie. Describe how that process worked for you.

I not only bought the rights from Leonard Peikoff in August of 1992, but during the 1980s, I was hoping and wishing that it would happen. And finally in 1992, we had talked about it previously, Leonard and I thinking, ‘Gee, who can we have make the film?’ And I bought from him a 15 year option. And I thought it was way too much time, that I would probably get the job done in a year and a half, maybe two years. And I went out and tried to raise some capital and create some interest from people that I knew and that 18 months turned out to be 15 years plus. And after so many ups and downs, many are already known in the public venue. Angelina Jolie being interested, then with Ted Turner saying it’s his favorite book…Al Ruddy who is a two-time academy award winner, two statues, and he gave a two thumbs up. So you get affirmation from outside like that.