Francis Lawrence May Direct a Houdini Film For Sony

Briefly: Since it seems like everything in Hollywood comes in packs of three or more these days, Sony has revived plans to make a Harry Houdini film. Francis Lawrence (Water For Elephants, I Am Legend) is now in talks to direct the film that once had Paul Verhoeven set to direct.

Variety says that this version is different from what Paul Verhoeven might have made (shocker);  it is taking ‘a new approach,’ but we don’t have any more detail. No word on a screenwriter, even.

Sony’s Houdini films joins several other similar projects in development. DreamWorks recently bought Voices From the Dead, a script by J. Michael Straczynski that uses the friendship between Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the basis for a supernatural thriller. That one could be great fun because of the weird friendship the two men shared, and the fact that they split apart again because of belief in (or, in Houdini’s case, a rejection of) Spiritualism.

And in 2009 Jeff Nathanson was writing The Secret Life of Houdini for Summit and that project is still kicking; last we heard Noah Oppenheim was writing a new draft. Finally, Aaron Sorkin and Danny Elfman are writing a Houdini musical intended for Hugh Jackman. Which one of these projects, or which ones, will see the light of day? No way to tell right now, but the competition between them will likely push at least one company into action so that we see some result from the Great Houdini Race of 2011.

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