Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Atlas Shrugged: The Direct- to- Video Bomb?

Because copyrights allow for monopolies over "derivative works", a single producing entity often ties up the rights to copyrighted books at any given time. No direct competition is allowed to see who can produce the best adaptation (unless the underlying work is in the public domain).

With that in mind, I had to chuckle to myself when I read the news that the producer of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" has started shooting the project with a mere $5-million budget and a crew that likely ensures a quiet direct-to-video release (if that).

Shooting has begun on the $5 million adaptation of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged in Los Angeles, reports Variety. Shooting for five weeks, "Atlas Shrugged Part One" is directed by Paul Johansson from a script by Patrick O'Toole. John Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow are producing. Aglialoro would have lost the feature rights if the film wasn't in production by Saturday.-Atlas Shrugged Starts Production in Los Angeles

When last we reported on this, Stephen Polk, son of former MGM chairman Louis Polk, was set to direct. At some point in the past couple weeks Johansson came on board. He has directed a few things in the past, most notably a dozen episodes of his show. And if he wanted a feature career, he’s found one of the more uniquely Hollywood ways to jumpstart one: agree to direct a last-minute production of a massive novel for a producer who has to start shooting NOW or else lose the rights he spent a million bucks on almost twenty years ago.-Atlas Shrugged is Filming; One Tree Hill’s Paul Johansson Starring and Directing

Well This Is Funny...

Ayn Rand herself was a defender of intellectual "property" (making this ironic indeed), though there is no "objective" way to support such a thing. What term shall copyright be for, for example? It ends up being completely arbitrary, not to mention the need for the state to step in to enforce the copyright laws, which are always subject to interpretation, and by their enforcement stifle creativity and suppress the freedom to produce new works that are based (as everything artistic is) on other, previous works.

Atlas Shrugged, the Movie, deserves better than what it's probably going to get. If only it was as free to anyone to adapt as the works of Shakespeare, Dickens and Twain, we might have gotten a really great film of Rand's seminal 1957 novel.

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