History has long been fascinated by Harry Houdini, master magician and illusionist. But what if that man, so well equipped for other vocations, were more than a performer? This is the question asked by The Secret Life of Houdini, a long-gestating project at Summit Entertainment. According to the synopsis on IMDb, The Secret Life of Houdini is “A fantasy that recasts Harry Houdini as a spy for Britain and a debunker of con artists.” This is only half-fiction, as Houdini was notorious for his crusades against cons and frauds, but does present an interesting twist on the character. A spy who is nigh impossible to keep out or tie up? Could be compelling.
The project hasn’t quite freed itself from the bindings of development hell, but it may have taken a step closer with news Dean Parisot (Red 2, Fun With Dick and Jane) is in talks to direct. The Deadline report warns that talks are still early, and that Parisot isn’t the first director linked to this project. IMDb still lists Joe Wright (Anna Karenina, Atonement) as the film’s director, and Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit) has previously been associated with the project as well.
In true Hollywood fashion, Summit’s project isn’t the only Houdini film in the works, either; Walden Media, the company behind the Chronicles of Narnia movies, is developing one with Mark Waters (Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Mean Girls) attached to direct, and Chris Fedak (writer and EP on the TV show Chuck) is currently at work on a new draft of the script. It’s too early to tell if either film will make it into production, but with the backing of high-profile companies on each, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we could see a box office showdown.