Johnny Depp is producing a new magician adventure film called Mortimer Wintergreen, and playwright and scribe Jack Thorne was just hired to write the script. Susanna White (Nanny McPhee Returns) is attached to direct the movie which is based on the 1987 novel The Magic Hat of Mortimer Wintergreen, written by Myron Levoy. There's a possibility that Depp will also star in the film if he's got the time.
The story is set in the 1890s, and it "follows a brother and sister who run away from their mean aunt and cross paths with a traveling magician named Mortimer Wintergreen. The man possesses a magical hat with a mind of its own, and the three find themselves on a series of wild adventures."
The film is set up at Warner Bros. where they were previously developing it and according to THR that version of the story followed a con man who stumbles across a magical hat, and finds himself on the run from "those who plan to use the object for their own twisted goals." There's no information on if that's the direction they want to take it, but they definitely want to make it a family film.
Here's the description of the book:
In 1890s South Dakota, Amy and Joshua escape from their mean Aunt Vootch. They plan to find their grandparents in New York, and manage to team up with a traveling magician, Mortimer Wintergreen, who is also New York bound. Mortimer owns a truly magic hat with a temperamental, mischievous mind of its own. Adventures abound as their way is blocked by outlaws, runaway hot-air balloons, geese, and their persistent Aunt Vootch. But the hat is always ready for action. Buoyant comedy. A fine addition to stories that truly entertain.Kirkus pointer review. A Junior Literary Guild Selection.