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Hunger Games Director Gary Ross In Talks To Helm Houdini

Not long after The Hunger Games broke all kinds of box office records, its director Gary Ross shocked us all by declaring he would not be helming its soon-to-shoot sequel, Catching Fire. From there, we pondered which lucky filmmaker would take his place, and kind of lost track of what Ross could possibly have in store for his follow-up. To be fair, this is in part because Ross isn't by any means a prolific director. Before The Hunger Games, he hadn't helmed a film since 2003's Seabiscuit, which followed well after 1998's Pleasantville.

But Ross has stunned us again, as THR reveals he has already entered negotiations with Summit Entertainment to helm their ambitious biopic Houdini. Based on the William Kalush and Larry Sloman's sensationalistic book The Secret Life of Houdini, The Making of America's First Superhero, this grand scale adaptation will unravel the extraordinary—and possibly true—story of how Harry Houdini was not only master magician and unparalleled escape artist, but also a savvy spy!

While this is undoubtedly a compelling basis for a movie, it doesn't seem Summit is close to rolling on Houdini. The studio first purchased the screen rights to the book in 2009 with hopes of making Houdini a mix of Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes. However, the THR item notes that the screenplay's last draft was penned by Noah Oppenheim, which seems to imply the script is still in flux. Complicating matters, Sony has a rival Houdini biopic in the works, which coincidentally has Catching Fire's new helmer, Francis Lawrence, attached to direct. Notably, Sony's Houdini feature has been struggling to get its act together since the 1990s. These variables plus Ross's noted preference for a lot of lead-in time to prepare for a production suggest Summit's Houdini might wait in the wings for years yet.

Kristy Puchko

Staff writer at CinemaBlend.