After turning down ‘Catching Fire,’ Ross may helm big-screen adaptation of ‘The Secret Life of Houdini.’
By Fallon Prinzivalli

Gary Ross
Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/ Getty Images

“Hunger Games” fans were dismayed when director Gary Ross released a statement saying he wasn’t going to helm the film’s sequel, “Catching Fire.” His previous works have been few and far between. Before adapting the dystopian novel, Ross directed “Pleasantville” in 1998 and “Seabiscuit” in 2003, and fans wondered if he would disappear off Hollywood’s radar for a while. But Ross’ next project might happen sooner rather than later.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ross is in talks with Summit to direct “Houdini,” an adaptation of the book “The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero” by William Kalush and Larry Sloman. While recounting the master escape artist’s life from poverty to fame, the biography suggests that the magician who commanded the attention of countless audiences worked as a spy for Britain and the Secret Service.

In Lionsgate’s own statement on Gary Ross’ departure from “The Hunger Games” franchise, they wrote, “[Gary Ross] did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work. This will not be the end of our relationship, as we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future.”

Since Lionsgate bought Summit earlier this year, it’s quite possible this is the other project they had in mind for the director. THR also reports that Summit optioned the rights to the book back in March of 2009 and their goal is to turn it into an action franchise in the same vein as “Indiana Jones” and “Sherlock Holmes.” Noah Oppenheim already wrote the script, but having penned every screenplay he’s directed, it’s possible Ross may want to edit or re-write it if he signs on for the project.

Coincidentally, THR notes that Francis Lawrence, the director who signed on for “Catching Fire,” is attached to his own Houdini venture for Columbia Pictures.

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