10 Cloverfield Lane wound up being a big hit for Paramount this year, so that managed to put director Dan Trachtenberg on other studios' radar. It looks like Lionsgate has scooped him up to take on their long-gestating movie based on magician Harry Houdini. Johnny Depp was most recently attached to star when Dean Parisot was attached to direct, but that has all changed now.
Deadline broke the news that the young director is in talks with Lionsgate for this new Houdini movie, which will be based on the 2006 book The Secret Life of Houdini and will take on the same name. The project, which was first announced back in 2009, has been through several actors and directors in that time period. But now with a script from Noah Oppenheim, who wrote The Maze Runner as well as the upcoming Oscar contender Jackie, and Dan Trachtenberg, the project could get some real traction. Here is how the book, written by William Kalush and Larry Sloman, is described.
"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."
Lionsgate's version of The Secret Life of Houdini will be drawing inspiration from the book, but will be taking some serious liberties. It is described as a heavily fictionalized biography, which will be more akin to something like Indiana Jones. So those hoping to see a more traditional biopic based on Harry Houdini will need to look elsewhere. Perhaps the Houdini TV mini-series that History Channel did in 2014 starring Adrien Brody will do the trick.
Dan Trachtenberg had very little directing experience, and no feature directing experience, when J.J. Abrams plucked him out of obscurity to direct 10 Cloverfield Lane. Originally, the movie was flying under the radar under the name of The Cellar, but just a couple of months before the release it was revealed that the movie was actually a follow-up of sorts to the 2008 monster movie Cloverfield The movie wound up making $108 million worldwide on a relatively small budget and it was also very well received by audiences and critics. Given the success, it seemed inevitable that Dan Trachtenberg would land a big studio project and it looks like the project will be The Secret Life of Houdini.
Aside from Dan Trachtenberg, the project also has some top notch producing talent in the form of Frank Marshall and Bruce Cohen. Lionsgate has not set any sort of timeline for The Houdini movie at the moment as this iteration of it is in the early stages. So there is no word on when the movie will hit theaters or when it will start shooting, assuming it works out this time, but we will be sure to keep you posted as details become available.