Real-life magician, escapologist and – according to some – spy Harry Houdini has fascinated and frustrated Hollywood in equal measure for years now. More than one film is in development about him, but none seem to be able to clamber out of the locked development chest. Summit is hoping that interest from Hanna / Anna Karenina director Joe Wright could help its take finally find the screen.
The film, which would adapt William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s fascinating and well-researched book The Secret Life Of Houdini, follows a big chunk of the man’s life and makes some interesting claims, including the claim that he worked as an intelligence agent during his travels in Germany, long before the formal creation of the CIA or MI6.
Houdini’s life was certainly colourful, with his womanising, ambitious escapes and notorious (if likely apocryphal) death-by-stomach-punch. Gary Ross had most recently been circling the idea, lured by the concept and Noah Oppenheimer’s script, but he’s moved on to Peter And The Starcatchers, and the few who saw it may recall that Guy Pearce starred in Death-Defying Acts as the magician a few years back.
It’s still very early days for Wright on the film, and he’s only in early discussions that could lead nowhere. But if he does take the job, expect a Houdini resurgence in the next couple of years between this and the Hugh Jackman / Aaron Sorkin musical…