It came as quite a shock when Gary Ross, who directed and shepherded the adaptation of The Hunger Games into a massively successful film that pleased both fans and critics, declined to direct the follow-up, Catching Fire. Ross wasn’t keen on the idea of rushing pre-production in order to meet an August production start-date, so he politely bowed out of the series. Ross takes his sweet time when choosing directorial projects (his only films as director are Hunger Games, Seabiscuit, and Pleasantville), but he’s likely been inundated with offers following the smashing success of the dystopian sci-fi adaptation.
Now it appears that Ross has settled on one of his post-Hunger Games projects, and it happens to be an adventure film about the secret life of Harry Houdini. Hit the jump for more.
An adaptation of William Klaush and Larry Sloman’s book The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero has been in the works for quite some time, with Summit tapping Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can) to write the first draft. Noah Oppenheim wrote the most recent draft of the script, and now Heat Vision reports that Ross is in negotiations to direct the possible franchise-starter.
The book turns Houdini into an action/adventure hero in the vein of Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes and posits that the master magician “acted as a spy for Britain, helped the Secret Service, and was in cahoots with police organizations.” Summit hopes to turn the pic into an action thriller franchise, and with Ross at the helm we can be sure that this won’t simply be a shoot ‘em up actioner that’s sacrifices story and character for explosions.
In an interesting turn of events, Francis Lawrence, who is now set to direct Catching Fire, has a Houdini film of his own in the works at Columbia. There’s no word on whether Houdini will be Ross’ next project, but it’s definitely exciting to know that a director of his caliber will be bringing this film to life. Given that Ross has had a hand in the screenplays for all his previous directorial efforts, he’ll most likely be writing a draft of the Houdini screenplay himself (with no release date to chase after). Read a synopsis of Klaush and Sloman’s book below.
Handcuff King. Escape Artist. International Superstar. Since his death eighty years ago, Harry Houdini’s life has been chronicled in books, in film, and on television. Now, in this groundbreaking biography, renowned magic expert William Kalush and bestselling writer Larry Sloman team up to find the man behind the myth. Drawing from millions of pages of research, they describe in vivid detail the passions that drove Houdini to perform ever-more-dangerous feats, his secret life as a spy, and a pernicious plot to subvert his legacy.
The Secret Life of Houdini traces the arc of the master magician’s life from desperate poverty to worldwide fame — his legacy later threatened by a group of fanatical Spiritualists led by esteemed British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Initiating the reader along the way into the arcane world of professional magic, Kalush and Sloman decode a life based on deception, providing an intimate and riveting portrayal of Houdini, the man and the legend [Amazon].