johnny depp harry houdini

Johnny Depp is getting in on the superhero game. Kind of. The A-list actor is in talks to portray Harry Houdini in Lionsgate/Summit’s The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero.

As the title suggests, this isn’t about Houdini as a mere escape artist. No, in this version of events, he’s also a secret spy who’s “part Indiana Jones and part Sherlock Holmes.” More details after the jump.

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Dean Parisot has done a few big-screen directing gigs in the past two decades (Galaxy Quest being the fan favorite) but mostly worked in TV during that period. Now he’s headed back to the big screen with the reins of Red 2 in hand. Summit may be happy with that sequel because the studio is reportedly giving Parisot something a lot more interesting than the geriatric assassins movie: a film about Harry Houdini.

Or at least, it will be a film inspired by Houdini. This is the one scripted by Noah Oppenheim based on William Kalush and Larry Sloman‘s book The Secret Life of Houdini, The Making of America’s First Superhero. As that title makes clear, this one goes a bit beyond the bounds of portraying Houdini as an escape artist.

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I think I like Joe Wright more when he’s working in a tweaked genre mode. Wright’s literary films (such as Atonement and Pride & Prejudice) are great, but it’s Hanna that really stuck with me. And with his version of Anna Karenina finished, he might be edging back towards the unusual with The Secret Life of Houdini, a biopic of the famous escape artist and anti-Spiritualist that tackles some of the more outrageous stories about Houdini’s life. Wright is reportedly in early talks to make the film that once had Gary Ross attached. Read More »

For a while there, it seemed all but certain that The Hunger Games helmer Gary Ross would return for the sequel, Catching Fire. But that, of course, didn’t pan out, and with Francis Lawrence now firmly positioned in the director’s chair for that film, Ross is weighing a few different options for his next move.

Among other things, he’s just entered talks for Summit’s Houdini, an adaptation of William Kalush and Larry Sloman‘s biography The Secret Life of Houdini, The Making of America’s First Superhero. Ironically enough, this project could pit him against his Hunger Games successor Lawrence, who’s attached to Columbia’s unrelated Houdini project. More after the jump.

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Jeff Nathanson and The Secret Life of Houdini

houdini nathanson

IGN has learned that Catch Me if You Can and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull screenwriter Jeff Nathanson might be writing a Houdini movie for Summit Entertainment.

In March it was announced that that Summit had acquired the rights to William Kalush and Larry Sloman‘s biography The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero. The book was somewhat controversial, as it implied that the famous magician and escape artist acted as a spy for Britain and was asked to be an adviser to Czar Nicholas II’s court in pre-revolutionary Russia.

The studio plans to adapt the book into an action thriller “featuring a character who is part Indiana Jones and part Sherlock Holmes.” Sounds like it could be fun. Imagine Indiana Jones, but instead of a whip, he had magic tricks and misdirection. I’m in.

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