Posted on Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 by Russ Fischer
When the economic crisis went into full swing, bookshops started to notice an odd trend: people who hadn’t read much more than a Grisham or Clancey novel in the last decade were suddenly rabid Ayn Rand fans. Atlas Shrugged, with its message of capitalism unfettered by government control, blasted back onto bestseller charts in the last year, making the long-gestating film adaptation seem a lot more likely. Now Charlize Theron is seriously interested, says the Risky Biz Blog, and because she and the producers are concerned that simply making a feature film wouldn’t do justice to the novel’s epic length (1100+ pages) it may instead become a miniseries for Epix, the new pay-cable network that Lionsgate is setting up with MGM and Viacom.
Theron was one of a small group of actresses (among them Anne Hathaway and Julia Roberts) that expressed interest in heroine Dagny Taggart a few months back. Theron’s commitment to the project remains a grey area, though it is said she’s been driving development on the project in recent months.
This is only the latest chapter in an effort to film the novel that is becoming almost as epic as the book itself. Loads of talent have been involved over the past four decades, and Angelina Jolie has been the prime mover on the film for quite some time. For a while director Vadim Perelman was attached. Or so the trades said, and so he said in many interviews. But in June of last year Jolie claimed he’d never been part of the project. Now, appropriately, it seems like she’s taking a back seat in the development. James Hart and Braveheart writer Randall Wallace have both written drafts (Hart’s said to be longer and more ‘mini-series friendly’) but any adaptation of the gigantic, didactic novel (really, this thing is more of a sprawling Rand manifesto than a narrative) is going to be problematic. If adapted as a mini-series, one whole episode could be that damned long speech by John Galt, the mysterious guy who leads a secession of creative and innovative minds from society.
Beyond the current surge of interest in the book there’s one more reason to get this going sooner rather than later: if a film doesn’t go into production by the end of next year, the book option reverts back to the Rand estate. At that point, you can bet that the price to renewing it will skyrocket.