Here’s a nice surprising reprieve from all the recent news about well-received movies getting tweaked to become TV projects: a well-received movie is getting tweaked to become a TV project. The CW is working with Yari Film Group, CBS TV Studios and Electus for a reimagining of the 2006 thriller The Illusionist, starring Ed Norton and Jessica Biel. Which means a mobile game based on The Prestige must be on the horizon.
Here’s how this new iteration will go, and it’s bound to astound anyone familiar with the film. It takes pace in 1900s New York, and tells the story of an illusionist who returns to his home, after being wrongfully imprisoned for a decade, to discover his wife is now married to the guy who framed him. The new husband is a vicious crime boss, so the illusionist uses his literal bag of tricks in devising clever heists to work his way up the criminal organization’s chain of command. That way, he can win his wife back and take the boss down from the inside. It takes a certain kind of person to think about setting a scheme like this in motion. An…the illusionist.
According to Deadline, The Illusionist will be written by Mark Hudis, a former writer/producer on series such as That 70s Show, True Blood and Nurse Jackie. Miles of genre space exist between each of those series, so it’s no surprise that something like this is next on Hudis’ agenda.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by this idea for a series, because I can always get down with CGI magic tricks performed in a period setting. But why is this an adaptation? Neil Burger loosely based his film on both a real life incident involving an Austrian Crown Prince and a Steven Millhauser short story called “Eisenheim the Illusionist,” neither of which sound like they’re inspiring this story much. Why not make it a new thing and call it An Illusionist, or Illusions or Sad Magic Crime Hour? Also, that plot description mentions zero teenagers, which immediately makes me skeptical of The CW being involved. But I digress.
For those who never saw it, the original take on The Illusionist took place in Vienna and followed a magician who woos Sophie (Biel), a very classy lady in line to marry a Crown Prince (Rufus Sewell). There’s a murder, and Paul Giamatti is the cop who will get down to the bottom of it, no matter how goofy he looks doing it. The cinematography had more going for it than the story, so it’s fine by me that the small screen adaptation has nothing to do with the same subject matter. Can we agree that the quickest way to get everyone on board is to bring Ed Norton back for it?
Next up, Kellogg's Now You See Me cereal.