Director Gary Ross may have handed the Hunger Games franchise over to Francis Lawrence when he opted out of directing the sequel, Catching Fire; but it will be a battle of magic movies (not to be confused with movie magic) with both directors looking to be behind competing Harry Houdini films.
Ross is in talks to helm Summit's adaptation of William Kalush and Larry Sloman's The Secret Life of Houdini, The Making of America's First Superhero. The book is known for insinuating that Houdini acted as a spy for Britain, was in cahoots with police organizations, and was asked to be an adviser to Czar Nicholas II's court in prerevolutionary Russia.
The last draft of the The Secret Life of Houdini was penned by Noah Oppenheim. Summit's aim to make the film an "action-thriller featuring a character who is part Indiana Jones and part Sherlock Holmes" follows the trend of period set, martial arts/supernatural makeovers for historical figures (e.g. Abraham Licoln: Vampire Hunter; The Raven) which have been coming off the heels of Guy Rithchie's take on the not so historical figure of Sherlock Holmes... still a badass though. Lawrences' Houdini pic over at Sony is aiming to be a more straight-forward biopic.
The race may be a little less exciting with Ross notoriously taking quite sometime between projects, directing Pleasantville in 1998 and Seabiscuit in 2003 before pleasing fans, critics, and the box-office with Hunger Games taking in over $600 million world-wide. So who knows when this will actually move forward.
Would you want to see Ross take on the action infused Houdini? Would you rather see a more straightforward biopic?