Oscar-nominated filmmaker Gary Ross is known for being fairly selective about which projects he chooses to work on, as evidenced by the time gaps between his directorial debut (Pleasantville, 1998), sophomore directing effort (Seabiscuit, 2003) and this year’s box office titan, The Hunger Games. It’s less shocking that he ultimately chose to pass on helming the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, due partly to the comparatively short period of time Lionsgate set for that film to make its way down the production pipeline.
That’s all meant as context for today’s surprising revelation, courtesy of Heat Vision, that Ross has (possibly) already lined up his next directing project: Houdini, an adaptation of William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s biography about the iconic late 19th/early 20th century illusionist/escape artist, titled “The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero”.
Kalush and Sloman’s 2006 literary work is most noteworthy (infamous, you could say) for asserting to have blown the lid off the “clandestine agreements in which the British and Americans recruited Houdini to be an active secret agent.” In fact, after Summit acquired the screen rights to the book in 2009, the initial plan was for it to spawn a new action-adventure franchise, headed by a Houdini who is “part Indiana Jones and part Sherlock Holmes.”
There’s no word yet on whether that plan would remain in place under Ross’ watch – or if the filmmaker will rework the most recent Houdini script draft penned by Noah Oppenheim, writer of the in-development Maze Runner adaptation and WarGames remake. Houdini would certainly prove to be a very different sort of movie with Ross in charge, as opposed to the one that was taking shape back when Rush Hour 2 & 3 writer Jeff Nathansan was attached to direct.
It ought to be noted that THR‘s insiders are indicating that Ross directing Houdini is far from a done deal right now. We’ll be sure to let you know if he does indeed sign on, along with any additional information – including, whether or not the “Handcuff King” is due to become the latest real-life historical figure-turned cinematic “superhero,” joining Edgar Allan Poe in The Raven and “Honest Abe” in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.