April 28, 2008 10:27AM

Atlas Shrugged … the Movie … at Last?

Scott Holleran at Box Office Mojo is all over the Atlas Shrugged movie project. A few days ago he talked to Michael Burns, vice chairman of Lionsgate, the studio that is planning to make the film. He confirmed that Angelina Jolie will star as Dagny Taggart. Burns says John Galt should not be played by a movie star but by an actor with “an incredibly remarkable face, a face that just pops out at you,” to which his Randian interviewer responds, “A face with no fear, no pain, no guilt?”

Burns, who attended Ayn Rand’s memorial service as a young Wall Streeter in 1982, describes the movie’s theme this way:

Think about it: the world’s great minds and great contributors to society—which really are the entrepreneurs—are being taken advantage of—and they are; if you make money, you’re giving up pretty close to half of your income, though the United States is still the greatest country in the world, and Ayn Rand would have said that as well—so, what would happen if these great minds went on strike? Would society move forward? It’s a great [dramatic] scenario, like that P.D. James novel, Children of Men, which is about [what would happen] if, all of sudden, everyone is sterile. Atlas Shrugged is as pertinent today as it’s ever been.

A week earlier Holleran had interviewed director Vadim Perelman, best known for The House of Sand and Fog. Perelman, who was born in the Soviet Union and left in 1977 at the age of 14 when the government was letting some Jewish people leave, said the novel’s emphasis on “individualism and [the] entrepreneurial spirit” resonates with him. He cited a favorite Ayn Rand quotation: “If there’s a more tragic fool than the businessman that does not realize he’s an extension of man’s highest creative spirit—it’s the artist who thinks that the businessman is his enemy.” But he brushes off the uber‐​Randian question, “In making Atlas Shrugged, do you want the approval of Miss Rand’s heir, philosopher Leonard Peikoff?”

Perelman told Holleran that the budget would be about $70 million, that they’re still working on the script and the casting, that he hopes to start shooting later this year, and that the look of the movie would be the Forties.