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Weighty gig for Wallace

Writer-director to map 'Atlas'

Writer-director Randall Wallace wasn’t about to shrug off the chance to adapt Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” for the bigscreen.

Wallace, the “Braveheart” scribe known for taking on epic themes, will begin penning the script immediately for Lionsgate.

Angelina Jolie has already signed on to star in the film, which is being produced by Howard and Karen Baldwin (“Ray”) — who hold the rights to the classic book — and Media Talent Group topper Geyer Kosinski.

Wallace, who last wrote and directed “We Were Soldiers” for Paramount, said he and his college-age son made a deal last year to read each other’s favorite books. His was C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity,” which runs around 100 pages; his son’s was “Atlas Shrugged,” which runs more than 1,100 pages.

“I was fascinated by Rand’s book. It was original and provocative,” Wallace told Daily Variety.

Wallace intends to finish the adaptation before he starts production next year on Catherine the Great epic “The Mercenary,” another collaboration with Jolie.

“Mercenary,” previously titled “Love and Honor,” will be produced by Wallace’s shingle, the Wheelhouse, which is in the final stages of closing a slate financing deal with a Wall Street private equity fund. “Mercenary,” set in Russia during the time of the American Revolution, would be financed by the fund.

A movie version of “Atlas Shrugged” has been long in the making. Producer Al Ruddy tried for years, attracting the interest of Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway along the way.

Jolie is another longtime fan of Rand’s, and she was eager to play the role of Dagny Taggart, the most powerful female character in any of the Russian-born author’s books.

Wallace is repped by William Morris Agency. Jolie is managed by Kosinski.

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