The late escape artist extraordinaire and legendary illusionist Harry Houdini has been portrayed on film and television many a time before, and that practice will be continuing in the future. One such upcoming project is Houdini, which is based on William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s book “The Secret life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero” – a work of literature that’s long been questioned for its historical accuracy – and was adapted into script form by Noah Oppenheim.
Houdini was one of the projects that Hunger Games filmmaker Gary Ross circled last year, after he decided to pass on helming the sequel to his young adult hit adaptation, Catching Fire. Ross ended up turning down the period-adventure and – last we heard – was going to devote his time and effort to making Disney’s Peter and the Starcatchers movie instead.
Deadline is reporting that Summit Entertainment has begun early negotiations with Dean Parisot to direct Houdini. The filmmaker and studio collaborated on next month’s comic book movie sequel RED 2, with Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren reprise their roles as retired black ops agents from the sleeper action-comedy hit RED.
A third RED installment has entered the screenwriting stage of development (with a 2014 production start date target), so it would seem that Summit is pleased with Parisot’s upcoming installment in the “Old-Timers with Guns” franchise – and thus, wants him to make Houdini. Parisot’s resume as director includes the beloved Star Trek-riff action-comedy Galaxy Quest and the (not-so-popular) Jim Carrey laughfest Fun with Dick and Jane, in addition to episodes on TV shows ranging from the comedy Monk to the gritty neo-western Justified.
Meanwhile, Oppenheim is a screenwriter who’s managed to get a lot of work, even though he doesn’t have any completed films on his resume yet. That will change next year, once the YA sci-fi novel adaptation The Maze Runner reaches theaters (based on his script), and provides everyone with a means to gauge Oppenheim’s storytelling abilities.
Oppenheim was reported to be writing a remake of the 1980s Matthew Broderick cult classic WarGames, in addition to a new screen version of George Orwell’s classic dystopia novel 1984. He also has the Jacqueline Kennedy biopic script Jackie collecting dust, even though it made the 2010 Hollywood Black List of Best Unproduced screenplays.
Point being, Oppenheim is an interesting (that means promising) choice to create a compelling portrait of the late Houdini, by painting him as a cross between Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes (according to previous descriptions of the project). Similarly, Parisot may be the right man for the job, and could deliver a fun spin on the “Historical Figure as a Superhero” premise – one that isn’t too serious for its own good and skimps on the dark ridiculousness found in other films that belong to the sub-genre (see: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter).
Screen Rant will keep you posted on Houdini as more information comes our way.