Max Landis Will Draft New Version of Sony’s Harry Houdini Project

By January 14, 2014


As is so often the case with randomly “hot” properties, the life of magician Harry Houdini is set to be the subject of not one, but two upcoming features. So how does a studio and a team differentiate their project from its competition? Hire a hot young screenwriter with some ideas that might, well, break the chains of the straight-laced biopic, obviously.

Deadline reports that Sony has hired Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis to punch up a new draft of their Houdini, which was originally penned by Scott Frank. The film will reportedly include “an HP Lovecraft influence,” so it might be time to start working on your steampunk-y cosplay and brush up on your horror chops. Landis is already busy with a new version of Frankenstein, (no, not of the “I” variety) and the pot-fueled American Ultra, but we suspect he’ll throw himself into his take on Houdini, because it sounds right up his alley.


Frank’s version of the film was first put into the works back in 2011, when it was viewed as being one of the more “grounded” films about Houdini in development – with Landis and his Lovecraft bent coming on board, that may no longer be the case. But this Houdini has not been easy from the start, as Frank’s script is apparently not doing the job and the production is still without a director after Francis Lawrence dropped out to helm the Hunger Games films.

The other Houdini picture in the pipeline also takes a different look at the man’s life, as Summit’s film, based on William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s book “The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero,” presupposes that the magician was also a “master spy.” Johnny Depp was, of course, once rumored to be interested in the role.

You know what that means! There may still be room for a wholly straightforward Houdini biopic!

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Kate Erbland
Kate Erbland is a staff writer for movie news and reviews at GeekNation. Her work can also be found at Film School Rejects, ScreenCrush, Vanity Fair, The Dissolve, Cosmopolitan, Bustle, amNewYork, New York Daily News, Dame Magazine, Mental Floss,, MSN Movies, and Boxoffice Magazine. She lives in New York City with two cats, two turtles, one boyfriend, and a frightening number of sensible canvas totes.
  • SarahKOL

    Yeah, because Max Landis is going to execute better than Scott Frank. AH-HA

  • Afrome57

    Max Landis is the greatest writer to have ever have written anything.

  • slacone1

    This sounds super-fun. Landis is a good writer and adds interesting twists.

  • RuthJSmith

    I remember back in the mid-90′s, Zemeckis was attached to this for like a
    minute, with Tom Cruise to star. That would have been a killer
    combination; would have loved to have seen that version of ‘Houdini’.