This article was update at 9:30 p.m.
Phillip Anschutz’s Crusader Entertainment has acquired film rights to Ayn Rand’s bestselling novel “Atlas Shrugged” and tapped James V. Hart to write the screenplay.
The story, first published in 1957, revovles around an economic collapse in the near-future United States as its top innovators and industrialists inexplicably disappear amid the growing power of politicians. The novel is also widely recognized for espousing Rand’s philosphy of Objectivism, which advocates laissez-faire capitalism and self-sufficiency.
“We are so thrilled to have gotten the rights to such a tremendous work — it is a great story that has equal parts mystery and romance and also celebrates the limitless potential of the human spirit,” Crusader CEO Howard Baldwin said. “The time is right to bring this ageless story to the bigscreen.”
Rand’s “The Fountainhead” was made into a 1949 feature starring Gary Cooper and Patricia O’Neal.
Hart’s credits include “Contact,” “Hook,” “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” and the miniseries “Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story.” He’s also contributed to Crusader/Paramount’s upcoming “Sahara” and Par’s “Lara Croft and the Cradle of Life: Tomb Raider 2.”
“Ayn Rand created extraordinary events and powerful characters over 50 years ago in her visionary novel that are suddenly coming frighteningly true all around us every single day,” Hart said. “This is a big, important challenge as a screenwriter and a great privilege.”
Crusader acquired the rights from John Aglialoro, who will exec produce. Aglialoro, CEO and chairman of Cybex Intl., bought the book rights in 1992.
Formed in 2000, Crusader is controlled by Denver-based billionaire Anschutz and has a first-look deal with Paramount. It’s in pre-production with Par on “Sahara,” with Matthew McConaughey toplining and Breck Eisner attached to direct, and on soccer drama “The Game of Their Lives.”
Crusader is currently lensing “Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Story,” starring Jamie Foxx, and is in-post-production on “A Sound of Thunder,” to be released domestically by Warner Bros.