Now that Gary Ross has officially vacated the director’s chair for ‘Catching Fire’, the second part in the ridiculously successful ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy, Ross has wasted no time in finding other projects to fill the void. Today comes word from The Hollywood Reporter that Ross is in negotiations to take ‘Houdini’ to the big screen for Summit Entertainment.

In development for some time, the project is an adaptation of the biography of the master magician entitled ‘The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero’ by William Kalush and Larry Sloman.

The tome, published in 2006, has a sort of ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’ vibe about it, insinuating that the great magician and escape artist was secretly a covert spy working for the British government, assisted the secret service, adviser to the court of Czar Nicholas’ II in pre revolutionary Russia as well as a debunker of con artists who pretended to be spiritualists. So as you can see, material that is ripe for all kinds of Hollywood mangling and invention.

Summit acquired the rights to the book back in 2009 with hopes of turning it into an action adventure franchise, with ‘Tower Heist’ and ‘Catch Me if you Can’ screenwriter Jeff Nathanson previously attached to direct.

Noah Oppenheim wrote the most recent draft of the screenplay.

Ross has been know to be quite picky when choosing projects to direct with only three directorial efforts to his name. He previously directed ‘Pleasantville’ and ‘Seabiscuit before guiding the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ bestseller to phenomenal success grossing more than $600 million worldwide so far.

After much speculation, with plenty of back and forth, Ross officially bowed out of directing the second part of Collins’ trilogy ‘Catching Fire’ last month with Francis Lawrence stepping in to take his place.

P.S. – In some irony, this time last year Lawrence was setting up his own Houdini biopic but it looks like he has been beaten to the punch by his Hunger Games predecessor.

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This article was first posted on May 2, 2012