Fans wait to see if ‘Atlas’ holds up as film

In the 1990s, the Library of Congress conducted a survey to determine the most influential books. “Atlas Shrugged” came in second, right beneath the Bible.

But nobody has been able to turn the book by Ayn Rand into a movie. Since it’s publication in 1957, many have tried.

“There are a lot of people who hate it, as well as a lot of people who love it,” said Ed Snider. The owner of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team also owned the movie rights to the novel for a few years in the 1980s.

“There was always a story that it was going to happen–then it gets zapped for whatever reason. It’s been the history of this book for over 50 years,” Snider said.

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One reason a movie version has been elusive is that “Atlas Shrugged” is highly complex. At 1,200 pages long, it has a huge cast of characters and several interweaving plot lines.

It’s also highly controversial. Rand designed the story as a way to promote her objectivist philosophy, one that pits the industrial entrepreneurs–the “makers”–against what she calls the “takers,” the government regulations and social obligations that sap their ambition.

While many fans embrace the book’s capitalistic philosophy, critics have said the characters are thinly sketched figures acting out the author’s social theories.

Now, the nut has been cracked. John Aglialoro, a Philadelphia native who runs a business in New Jersey manufacturing exercise equipment, personally bankrolled the $10 million film. He believes in the Randian objectivism the characters impart.

“The moral purpose of their lives is that they are entitled to their own lives,” said Aglialoro. “Government serves the individual, the individual does not serve the government, or others. They may choose to help the disabled or the unabled, but never the unwilling or expectant.”

Rand herself struggled to get the film made during her lifetime. She died in 1982.  Snider knew her personally after reading “Atlas Shrugged” in his 40s. He says she wanted complete control of the movie version.

“The movie production companies would not give up creative control, therefore in her lifetime she wouldn’t allow the movie to be made unless she did have control,” said Snider. “I asked her, ‘What happens when you’re gone?’ She says, ‘It will go to the grave with me. I never want it made.'”

To keep the movie as faithful the novel as possible, the film will be made in three parts following the book’s structure. The first part will be released on April 15. If it is successful, parts two and three will be made and released on Tax Day in subsequent years.

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