Harry Houdini

Biopics are a little like the savings bonds of the movie world. They’re dependable and usually low-risk; for every Diana or Amelia or Jobs, you’re sure to find dozens of true-life stories making reasonable returns on their investment. The biopic is both a sturdy workhorse and an easy road to prestige, attracting the highest and mightiest of the film world while still maintaining the “people have heard of this before, probably” branding appeal of an action figure action movie. So naturally, biopics are everywhere, choking our rivers and breeding like rats. And while they might vary a little bit from genre to genre — The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave and Saving Mr. Banks would certainly appear on different shelves in some mythical, non-demolished Blockbuster Video- they’re all burdened down by one gigantic common factor: The Truth. How is it that biopics still haven’t started playing fast and loose with the real-life events they’re based around? I’m not talking about a few fudged details here and there, like when Lincoln tweaked a few 13th amendment votes or when We Bought a Zoo shamefully moved its titular zoo from England to the United States. What hasn’t really happened yet is the biopic that takes a well-known historical figure and places him or her into a situation that’s clearly meant to be fictional. Sadly, the only real example thus far is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and the less said about that particular filmmaking venture, the better. But now the “fake […]

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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.

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Summit options The Secret Life of Houdini

Summit has optioned “The Secret Life of Houdini” and plans to bring the historical figure to the big screen fictional style, complete with whip and fedora.

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