“The Secret Life Of Houdini” has been kicking around Hollywood for years now. Gary Ross and Joe Wright kicked the tires on the project but ultimately decided not to direct, with the less illustrious name of Dean Parisot (“Red 2,” “Fun With Dick And Jane,” “Galaxy Quest“) signing up to direct last summer. But now the film has received a kick in the pants, thanks to none other than Johnny Depp.
The actor is in negotiations to star in the Lionsgate movie, which is moving fast and hoping to start lensing in November. So why is the studio and Depp so keen on this one? Well, it takes the world’s most influential and famous magician and reimagines him as an Indiana Jones-type figure (sigh) who gets into various wacky adventures. So basically, it’s a Johnny Depp movie, and that will provide lots of room for mugging and wild costumes. Here’s the Amazon synopsis of the book by William Kalush and Larry Sloman on which the movie is based:
Since his death eighty-eight years ago, Harry Houdini’s life has been chronicled in books, in film, and on television. Now, in this groundbreaking biography, renowned magic expert William Kalush and bestselling writer Larry Sloman team up to find the man behind the myth. Drawing from millions of pages of research, they describe in vivid detail the passions that drove Houdini to perform ever-more-dangerous feats, his secret life as a spy, and a pernicious plot to subvert his legacy.
The Secret Life of Houdini traces the arc of the master magician’s life from desperate poverty to worldwide fame—his legacy later threatened by a group of fanatical Spiritualists led by esteemed British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Initiating the reader along the way into the arcane world of professional magic, Kalush and Sloman decode a life based on deception, providing an intimate and riveting portrayal of Houdini, the man and the legend.
Noah Oppenheim (“The Maze Runner“) has penned the script, and perhaps the silver lining here is that this movie will apparently push back production on “Pirates Of The Caribbean 5” to 2015. But otherwise, given Depp’s track record of late, we’re really gonna have to be convinced that this one will be worth our time. [THR]