Making a movie about the life of Harry Houdini has been a recent priority of Lionsgate’s Summit for a few good reasons. For one, the famed magician just lived a really interesting life, which would probably make for the rare, non-boring biopic. For another, Houdini is a name that lots of people already recognize, but that hasn’t been the subject of a movie in a while, and studios are always looking for something that has name recognition they can get their hands on. Add that to the fact that there’s a biography out there, by William Kalush and Larry Sloman, called “The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero” that’s very cinematic and pretty much ready-made to be adapted into a film (screenwriter Noah Oppenheim has already done a draft), and putting together a Houdini project seems like something of a no-brainer.
But, for some reason (Gary Ross looking at it and eventually passing is probably a contributing factor), Summit has been sitting on this project for a while now without it gaining any real momentum. The good news is, that may soon change, because another notable and talented director is said to be circling the screenplay. According to sources that have spoken to the L.A. Times, Hanna helmer Joe Wright has taken a liking to the script and is currently in negotiations to become attached as director.
The reality in Hollywood is that no matter how promising a script looks, suits aren’t likely to line up with funding until a superstar director or a big name actor get attached to it, so if Wright actually does end up signing on the dotted line and agrees to make this his next project, it’s likely that work on this long-gestating biopic would go forward pretty quickly; which would be great news for all of the amateur Houdini historians out there, as they’ve been waiting a long time for a worthwhile feature film about their hero.