Glen David Gold‘s hit novel Carter Beats the Devil has been churning through development hell since it was optioned back in 2002. The story takes place in the 1920s and centers on Carter the Illusionist, who stages a sawed-in-half trick on President Warren G. Harding, only to be forced on the lam after Harding mysteriously dies shortly after. The plot features other historical figures, including Harry Houdini, BMW founder Max Friz, and television pioneer Philo Farnsworth.
There seemed to be a flicker of life last summer when Warner Bros. was looking to revive the project by getting Johnny Depp to star, but he chose to pass. However, THR reports that WB hasn’t given up on the project, and now 21 Jump Street directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are in talks to take on the adaptation. Hit the jump for more.
According to THR, Warner Bros. sees the adaptation as a period adventure in the vein of Sherlock Holmes. But after 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, I expect something far better from Lord and Miller. Strangely, Carter seems a bit of a departure since it would be their first film that has a clear story. Jump Street and Cloudy didn’t naturally lend themselves to feature film adaptation, but the duo surprised audiences by turning out two terrific movies. However, if they choose to take on Carter Beats the Devil, the movie will still be a ways off since Lord and Miller are currently at work on an untitled LEGO movie.
America in the 1920s was a nation obsessed with magic. Not just the kind performed in theaters and on stages across the country, but the magic of technology, science, and prosperity. Enter Charles Carter — a.k.a. Carter the Great — a young master performer whose skill as an illusionist exceeds even that of the great Houdini. Fueled by a passion for magic that grew out of desperation and loneliness, Carter has become a legend in his own time. His thrilling act involves outrageous stunts carried out on elaborate sets before the most demanding audiences.
But the most outrageous stunt of all stars none other than President Warren Harding and ends up nearly costing Carter the reputation he worked so hard to create. Filled with historical references that evoke the excesses and enthusiasm of postwar, pre-Depression America, Carter Beats the Devil is the complex and illuminating story of one man’s journey through a magical — and sometimes dangerous — world, where illusion is everything, and everything is illusory. [Amazon]