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John Aglialoro: The Man Behind Atlas Shrugged Movie

November 24, 2010
Atlas Shrugged movie: A visual effects shot in the making.

Atlas Shrugged movie: A visual effects shot in the making.

I wanted to be able to visit Ayn Rand’s grave in New York and say, “We got it done.” — John Aglialoro

I’m one of the many people who get thrilled by the news about the making of Atlas Shrugged movie. Atlas Shrugged, the magnum opus of philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand, is my favorite book. For me, it is the best fictional and philosophical book ever written in history. I am proud that I’m the first to publish a review of the book in the Philippine media. In my review titled Atlas Shrugged: The Answer to Economic Ignorance published in the Manila Times, I wrote:

Most people see parallelism between the events in Atlas and the current global financial turmoil that severely hit developed countries like the US, Great Britain, France, Australia, Germany, among others.

So what happens in case of excessive government regulation? The answer is clearly illustrated in Atlas—market socialism would lead to the exodus of real capitalists who cherish individual rights and freedom from economic interference. In the world of Atlas, the United States fell in the hands of socialist thugs and collectivist politicians who issued regulatory laws like Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act that aims to destroy competition, Anti-Greed Act that intends to redistribute wealth, Equalization of Opportunity Act that prevents anybody from establishing more than one business, among others.

Taylor Schilling (of Mercy) plays Dagny Taggart

Taylor Schilling (of Mercy) plays Dagny Taggart

Now after more than five decades, a successful entrepreneur has committed himself to finish the job of putting Atlas Shrugged on the big screen. This man- John Aglialoro- admitted to have invested so much in Ayn Rand’s best seller. It was said that for nearly two decades, this entrepreneur, who was ranked by Forbes Small Businesses as the 10th richest executive of any small publicly-traded company (revenues under $200 million) in 2007, has promoted the novel- intellectually, logistically, financially- as a “kind of commitment to Ayn Rand herself.”

According to Joshua Zader, Aglialoro is one of those rare wealthy businessmen who understands the  philosophical message in Atlas Shrugged. “And he wants the rest of the world to get it, too — by seeing it on the big screen,” Zader said.

Here’s an excerpt of The Atlasphere’s interview with Aglialoro:

The Atlasphere: You’ve been working to bring Atlas Shrugged to the screen for seventeen years. During that time, you’ve faced many ups and downs. What has kept you going for such a long time?

John Aglialoro: Let me give you some background first. I had purchased a fifteen-year lease to make a movie of the book in August 1992 from Leonard Peikoff, now the former chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute. I wanted to outsource the project to a studio, a financing group, or some party who would see what an excellent opportunity it was.

Over the years there were some great names in the industry who were interested in the project. But year after year passed, and it got to the point where I had to make a decision to finance it myself — and to arrange for the casting and get it done — or lose the movie rights altogether.

One thing that kept me going was that many years back I had made a kind of commitment to Ayn Rand herself. I didn’t make it to her one-on-one personally, although I had actually seen her once, when she gave her last talk at the Ford Hall Forum in 1981. But making the movie was something that I felt as an Objectivist I could carry out one way or another. I wanted to be able to visit Ayn Rand’s grave in New York and say, “We got it done.”

John Aglialoro with his wife, Joan Carter Aglialoro

In April of this year I had to make a decision about whether to pursue the project and get filming going by the middle of June or to let my lease on the movie expire.

My wife pointed out that if I didn’t do it, it would haunt me for the rest of my life.

And that did it.

TA: You’ve been a successful entrepreneur and now you’ve produced a movie. What challenges did you face in the latter role? How is making a movie different or similar to running a business?

Aglialoro: In business you need a vision and a team with a strategy, and you need the capital. For the movie we had the vision and the capital. We just needed to gather a team together, although we had a very short runway leading up to the filming. But I found the same elements involved in this project that I had found from owning various types of businesses.

Several years ago my kids gave my wife and me a Monopoly game with various properties or companies we had bought or sold over the years substituted for the ones in the game. The names might be different, but the dynamics of businesses and projects are the same.

Another scene.

Another scene.

One difference between many business enterprises and making the movie was the very short time span we had to pull it together and start filming. June 15, 2010 was the deadline when my option on making the movie would run out. As the date got closer and closer I asked the estate, owned by Leonard Peikoff, for an extension. For whatever reason that he thought it was in his self-interest, he kept us to that deadline. So the last three weeks or so leading up to the deadline were mostly sleepless nights.

Wyatt torch's scene.

Wyatt torch's scene.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2010 3:38

    Glad you enjoyed the interview. We spent a ton of time on it. Please shorten your excerpt to comply with fair use laws, rather than copying the full article like this. Thanks!

    • November 24, 2010 3:38

      I enjoyed it a lot. I have shortened the excerpt to the allowable limit, which is less than 600 words. Thanks!

      • November 24, 2010 3:38

        Perfect, thanks!

  2. December 9, 2010 3:38

    Rock On Joshua! This movie is going to bring a lot of old friends together in an outpouring of mudita!

  3. Loki permalink
    February 7, 2011 3:38

    Dagny.🙂 Awesome news.

  4. russell fleet permalink
    April 4, 2011 3:38

    where will “atlas shrugged” be shown in the philippines?

    • April 5, 2011 3:38

      Distribution in the Philippines is not yet know… Sadly.

  5. Pat Detro permalink
    April 30, 2011 3:38

    I have waited 40 years to see someone actually film “Atlas Shrugged”. It was worth waiting for; now I read Mr. Aglialoro may not film Parts 2 & 3. The fact there was very little advertising may have been part of the problem of low attendance. Had I not seen “Who is John Gault” on a local marquee, I never would have known. As far as reviewers go, they seem to be flowered by their own words. I’m more likely to see a movie they panned than see one they raved about. Please, if at all possible, make Parts 2 & 3. I will definitely feel cheated otherwise.
    Pat Detro, Costa Mesa

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  1. John Aglialoro: The Man Behind Atlas Shrugged Movies – VFX Filmmaker

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