Director Dan Trachtenberg did a fantastic job on the J.J. Abrams-produced film 10 Cloverfield Lane. I loved that movie, and now the director is in talks to join a whole new film project based on the legendary magician Harry Houdini.
The film is set up at Lionsgate, and they’ve been trying to get it into production for years. The project is based on the William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s book The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero.
The book dives into some fun and interesting details about Houdini including that it was believed that he was a British spy, in cahoots with police organizations, and at one point was even asked to be an adviser to Czar Nicholas II’s court in pre-revolutionary Russia. These are real theories about the magician, and this movie will obviously elaborate on those stories.
The studio’s plan for the film is to make it an action-thriller in which Houdini will be portrayed as part Indiana Jones and part Sherlock Holmes. Over the years several names have been attached to the project including actor Johnny Depp and Galaxy Quest director Dean Parisot. The current draft of the script was written by screenwriter Noah Oppenheim. Maybe the studio will actually get it moving forward with Trachtenberg on board. I hope it does! I think he’s a solid choice to take on the challenge.
Here’s the description of the book the film will be inspired by:
Using exclusive access to newly uncovered archives, Kalush and Sloman reveal the clandestine agreements in which the British and Americans recruited Houdini to be an active secret agent. In exchange for his cooperation, the governments of these two countries facilitated his rise to the top of the world stage. The authors give thrilling accounts of his assignments, such as his participation in early aerial surveillance and his use of his own magic magazine to communicate espionage-related information. After the war, Houdini embarked upon what became his most dangerous mission when he took on the Spiritualist movement. Convinced that Spiritualist mediums were frauds, he became obsessed with exposing them. But the Spiritualists were a powerful adversary. An organized network of fanatics, led by Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle, worked relentlessly to orchestrate a campaign that would silence Houdini forever. Grounded in solid research, but as exciting and dramatic as a good thriller, THE SECRET LIFE OF HOUDINI traces the magician’s long and circuitous route from struggling vaudevillian to worldwide legend.