Disney Developing a “History of Magic” Movie


Briefly: Disney, known as the creator of the Magic Kingdom, is looking to the Magic Castle for a new film. The studio is developing an as-yet untitled movie featuring a strong magical component. In fact, a noted practitioner of card tricks and sleight of hand, Derek DelGaudio, is on board as a producer.  DelGaudio is also recently spending the first half of 2014 as an artist in residence at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Keith Bunin, who wrote Ezekial Moss, the movie Phillip Seymour Hoffman planned to direct prior to his death, will script.  There is little info available about the pitch that put the development in motion, but THR reports that the story will “tackle the history of magic’s last 100 years as seen through the eyes of one magician.”

Bunin is on a streak; in addition to Ezekial Moss, he adapted Joe Hill’s Horns into a film starring Daniel Radcliffe, and wrote the Dr. Seuss biopic that Johnny Depp may topline. He’s also got the script Standard Loneliness Package set at Fox Searchlight with John Krokidas to direct, and Skyjack at CBS films, with Will Gluck directing.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is down in Atlanta right now, filming the second Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire, and probably also enjoying some of the afterglow of The Master having a record-setting weekend. And now we’ve got more good news for Hoffman fans, as he is prepping to make his second directorial effort, based on the 2011 script Ezekiel Moss.

Called a “Depression-era ghost story,” the film hit the 2011 Black List of popular unproduced screenplays, and was penned by Keith Bunin. Producer Cathy Schulman of Mandalay Pictures calls the project a “captivating and gothic exploration of faith and the supernatural.” Read More »

Will Gluck, who made the very funny Easy A as well as this year’s Friends With Benefits, may detour into a true and very strange story with one of his new opportunities. The guy has quite a few upcoming projects, including a re-team with Emma Stone, a great sex comedy heist story called Sex on the Moon, and several other options all in various stages of ‘maybe’ development.

But the novel Skyjack: The Hunt For D.B. Cooper is being set up at CBS Films, and the company has hired Gluck to produce and direct. And while Skyjack is being developed as an action comedy — a form that Gluck is working with for other films, and an increasingly common genre combination — the story is unique in that it follows a man who hijacked a plane, demanded cash and parachutes, then leapt from the craft. He was never found, and thus never caught. Read More »

Each December since 2004, studio executive Franklin Leonard has compiled the best unproduced screenplays of the year, as voted by hundreds of execs, agency guys, and high-level assistants. Titled The Black List, the compendium highlights both established screenwriters and up-and-comers, and has served as a launching pad in the past for projects like Juno, Lars and the Real Girl, and (500) Days of Summer. Last year’s list included Margin Call, Crazy, Stupid, Love, The Hunger Games, and Snow White and the Huntsman.

It should be noted that the headline is somewhat misleading — some of these screenplays have already been acquired and are already in development, though according to Leonard none will have entered principal photography by December 31, 2011. Also worth pointing out is that, as in previous years, there have been rumors that some of the participants have been accused of using the Black List to promote their own clients or friends. Finally, as Leonard reminds us each time, “The Black List is not a ‘best of’ list. It is, at best, a ‘most liked’ list.”

Regardless, we can always rely on the Black List to stir up conversation among both industry insiders and outside spectators alike, so without further ado, hit the jump for the complete 2011 list.

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Johnny Depp has, improbably, become one of the world’s biggest movie stars. He has a great number of projects in the works, from Dark Shadows and a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie to Lone Ranger, The Thin Man and, a bit further on the horizon, a possible biopic of Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss.

Depp doesn’t give a great many long interviews, but he did recently appear on Larry King’s show as part of the promotion for The Rum Diary, which is the second film in which he plays a version of the late author Hunter S. Thompson. During that interview Depp touched on a number of upcoming projects. Among them was the Dr. Seuss biopic, which he says will incorporate animation and live action, with Seuss’ classic characters appearing alongside human actors. Read More »

Johnny Depp has already played two famous authors: Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland. (You could say he has almost played a third, William Blake, in Dead Man.) Now he’s is set to produce a film about Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. And he’ll likely play the beloved writer and illustrator, as well. Read More »