Movie News

Kavanaugh Circling 'Atlas Shrugged'; Theron As Taggart?

Apr 01, 2009 | 4:37am EDT

Ryan Kavanaugh is said to be circling the eternally stuck-in-development-hell big-screen adaptation of Ayn Rand's self-styled 'magnum opus,' Atlas Shrugged.

Kavanaugh's Relativity Media, according to the Risky Biz blog, could come aboard to finance the Baldwin Entertainment project with Lionsgate.

While Angelina Jolie was the most recent name attached to play protagonist Dagny Taggart, the blog says that other stars now interested include Charlize TheronJulia Roberts and Anne Hathaway.

Given the book's themes of individualism that resonate in the era of Obama, government bailouts and stimulus packages, this could be the perfect time to finally get the book to the screen.

"This couldn't be more timely," Karen Baldwin, who along with husband Howard is producing, told BIZ. "It's uncanny what Rand was able to predict -- about the only things she didn't anticipate are cell phones and the Internet."

With the recession, the book has experienced a resurgence. As of today, it is listed as top seller on Amazon in the Literature & Fiction Literary and Classics categories.

The book, for which Rand wrote the manuscript by hand and which was published in 1957 in the U.S., has been known to polarize readers. It tells the story of Dagny Taggart, a railroad executive trying to keep her corporation competitive in the face of what she perceives as a lack of innovation and individual responsibility.

Rand butted heads with King Vidor when he directed the adaptation of her Fountainhead in 1949 for which she wrote the screenplay. For Atlas Shrugged, she long insisted on script approval while the project went through various possible incarnations until her death in 1982 and beyond.

Now the Baldwins are looking to shoot next year, says Risky Biz, driven in part by the timeliness, as well as by a clause in the option. A high net-worth individual with whom the Baldwins have partnered controls the option, explains the blog, but that option would revert to the Rand estate if production doesn't begin by the end of 2010.

The Baldwins say that while Relativity and Lionsgate are in the pole position to finance and distribute, other studio and financier suitors could yet materialize.

Still, Karen Baldwin praised Lionsgate and Michael Burns, who has championed the project at the studio, and also said Kavanaugh would be an appropriate partner. "The subject of the book would seem to fit with the kind of people who are willing to step up and take big chances," she told BIZ.

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