Today is Harry Houdini’s 137th birthday, which the world-famous illusionist is celebrating by being incredibly dead, but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from showering him with gifts in the form of at least five different Houdini projects. We’ve already reported on the competing Harry Houdini-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle buddy-cop dramas—both Syfy’s Among The Spirits series and DreamWorks’ Voices From The Dead—and we’ll just use sleight of hand to distract from the fact that we forgot to mention Aaron Sorkin and Danny Elfman’s Houdini musical for Hugh Jackman when it was announced last year. Look at this bird! Now it’s a puff of smoke! And Summit Entertainment has reportedly been prepping The Secret Life Of Houdini, which is a Sherlock Holmes-style action thriller that proposes Houdini balanced his magic career with a double identity as a swashbuckling spy for Britain and various police organizations. (Obviously it's based in fantasy, as everyone knows Houdini's real secret life was as an enthusiastic collector of vintage cans.)
So as if all that weren’t enough for the long-decayed birthday boy, Variety reports that I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence has taken over a Houdini biopic that’s been kicking around since at least the late 1990s, when it was at one time attached to Paul Verhoeven. Naturally, Lawrence is said to be offering a different approach to the project, which is a given considering we’re talking about taking over for Paul Verhoeven here, but there’s no word yet on what that approach may be. Considering its competition—which has begun to rival Peter Pan in its redundancy—don’t be surprised if they suddenly shove vampires or aliens or something in there.