EXCLUSIVE: Transformers duo Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian are producing a movie about iconic escape artist and illusionist Harry Houdini for Paramount.
Plot details are being kept under wraps on the untitled development project but we understand it will be set of its time in the early 20th Century and have a Sherlock Holmes tone, dealing as it does with a human superhero type.
Script is being written by Neil Widener and Gavin James who are also working with the studio on Jerry Bruckheimer’s Beyblade project we revealed last week.
Houdini (born Erik Weisz) was the Hungarian-American stunt performer and mysteriarch, noted for his escape acts and his rags-to-riches immigrant story. He first attracted notice in vaudeville in the US and then as “Harry ‘Handcuff’ Houdini” on a tour of Europe, where he challenged police forces to keep him locked up. Soon he extended his repertoire to include chains, ropes slung from skyscrapers and straitjackets under water. Another stunt saw him buried alive and only just able to claw himself to the surface, emerging in a state of near-breakdown.
His exploits made him a worldwide celebrity and his stunts drew thousands. He was also a keen aviator and aimed to become the first man to fly a powered aircraft in Australia. After moving to LA in 1919, Houdini lived on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, where he practiced his water escapes.
The illusionist has been previously portrayed on screen by the likes of Tony Curtis, Paul Michael Glaser, Harvey Keitel, Adrien Brody, Michael Weston and Michael Dreyer. However, there hasn’t been a movie about Houdini since the 2007 film Death Defying Acts starring Guy Pearce and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Di Bonaventura and Vahradian are in post-production on Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts (which they produce with Michael Bay, Tom DeSanto and Don Murphy), the next Pet Sematary movie and Gerard Butler action pic The Plane. Di Bonaventura is also producing The Meg 2: The Trench, which is filming in the UK.
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