Brian Doherty of Reason.com was able to visit the set of Atlas Shrugged, Part II — Either-Or, based on Ayn Rand’s inspiring novel, during part of its ongoing 31 day shoot. After poor box office sales and being panned by critics, including our own Matthew Alexander (read his review), many wondered whether the second and third installments would ever be filmed. Encouraging DVD and VOD sales convinced the wealthy “rights”-holder, John Aglialoro, to persevere and a few new Randian investors to hop on board. I’m not sure whether the budget is the same, but in a risky move two things certainly aren’t: the director and the entire cast.
Yes, you read that right. The director and the entire cast from the first film were not retained for the second and third installments. The irony is not lost on those of us who both recognize that so-called intellectual property is illegitimate and are painfully aware of how fiercely most followers of Ayn Rand cling to it that copyright appears to have played a major role in this potentially devastating turnover. As one of the producers, Harmon Kaslow, himself explains,
just from a practical standpoint when we set out to make Part I we had a ticking clock where if we didn’t start production by a certain date John’s interest in the rights could lapse. We didn’t have the luxury at that moment to negotiate future options with the various cast members.
The need to rush to get the first movie filmed no doubt had a negative effect on its quality as well.
Kaslow tries to alleviate our doubts, “The message of Atlas is greater than any particular actor, so it’s one of those pieces of literature that doesn’t require in our view the interpretation by a singular actor.” But, I’m sorry to say, while this is true, replacing the cast destroys the integrity of the three-part film as an artistic work — at least for me. It simply cannot be viewed as a seamless whole. There will be a jarring effect from the discontinuity in the transition from the first to the second installment.
The new director will be “John Putch (a TV veteran with many episodes of Scrubs and Cougar Town behind him),” so we can safely assume that, with a small budget and a tv director, Atlas Shrugged, Part II will feel more like a made-for-tv movie than a professional Hollywood film.
In light of Atlas Shrugged, Part I and these revelations, I cannot say I have much hope that the remaining installments will be good films.
Here’s a brief run-down of some of the new cast:
- Jason Beghe, “most recently of Californication,” as Hank Rearden;
- Esai Morales, “most recently seen as Caprica‘s Joseph Adama,” as Francisco D’Anconia;
- Samantha Mathis, “perhaps most famously of Pump Up the Volume opposite Christian Slater,” as Dagny Taggart.
What’s your opinion of the first film and the prospects going forward in light of these revelations? Tell us what you think in the comments.
Read the full story of Brian Doherty’s experience on set.