With “The Hunger Games” director Gary Ross having officially moved on from the blockbuster franchise, with a desire to do something different, he has now signed up to tackle a famous historical figure and an adventure movie all at once.
Summit has tapped Ross to direct “Houdini,” a tale about the famed magician that will offer up a different side to the entertainer that many thought they knew. Based on the book by “The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero” by William Kalush and Larry Sloman, the book purports that Houdini acted as a spy for Britain, was involved with the Secret Service and police organizations, and was asked to be an adviser to Czar Nicholas II’s court in prerevolutionary Russia. And as befitting that premise, the plan is to turn the material into a “Sherlock Holmes“/’Indiana Jones‘ style thriller with a script from Noah Oppenheim.
However, as THR notes, this is not necessarily Ross’ next film. The director has a strong handful of projects brewing, including the sci-fi pic “Outback” with Carey Mulligan at FilmDistrict and a reworking of Cyrano De Bergerac at New Regency. These were lined up in 2011, and going a bit further back, he had been developing a civil war movie with Matt Damon at Universal that fell apart, and after that, they tried to get a Robert F. Kennedy biopic moving, but it didn’t come together.
Summit will likely want their “Houdini” out of the gate before the rival projects at other studios get moving. DreamWorks has a Houdini flick from “Changeling” writer J. Michael Straczynski entitled “Voices From The Dead,” while Sony is also developing a biopic that, ironically, Francis Lawrence became attached to direct last year. So we’ll see what goes next, but Ross is certainly not without options.