EXCLUSIVE: The life story of illusionist Harry Houdini has long fascinated Hollywood, but nobody has been able to do anything about it. Sony Pictures has Max Landis working his magic on a new draft of Houdini, the film being produced by Jimmy Miller. I’m told that is telling the story with an HP Lovecraft influence. Landis scripted Chronicle, and his subsequent work includes Frankenstein, the Paul McGuigan-directed Fox pic that stars James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe; and American Ultra, the Nima Nourizadeh-directed film that stars Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. Landis is repped by WME and Circle Of Confusion. This gives new momentum to the pic that was originally scripted by Scott Frank, with Francis Lawrence attached until he went off to do the Hunger Games pics.
Summit is also working on a Houdini project, which Dean Parisot has been circling to direct, based on the Noah Oppenheim script adaption of the William Kalush and Larry Sloman book The Secret Life Of Houdini: The Making Of America’s First Superhero. That pic paints a picture of Houdini as a master spy and there were rumors Johnny Depp was interested. Houdini is separately the subject of a Broadway musical, which had a setback when Hugh Jackman dropped out over scheduling.