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Chernin Acquire ‘The Houdini Box,’ from ‘Hugo’ Author Brian Selznick

Written by on August 18, 2012 

For only one project, Brian Selznick‘s got my trust. Not that you can really blame me when his wonderful children’s novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, made way for Martin Scorsese‘s incredible Hugo — a career landmark for the director which might also be my “favorite” film of 2011. Based on that alone, we’re in business here.

Variety reports that Fox’s Chernin Entertainment are angling toward another one of Selznick‘s works: The Houdini Box, a 1991 novella which, if adapted, would only add to Hollywood’s growing slate of Houdini projects. (I don’t know what the hell it is about this guy that’s suddenly firing everyone up.) No scribes, helmers, or any other creative voices have been attached as of now — the thing just got picked up, so give it time — which might make a plot synopsis all the more handy right now.

Read it below (via Amazon):

“Victor is forever trying to escape from locked trunks, walk through walls, and perform any number of Houdini’s astonishing magic tricks…without success. Then — amazingly — he actually meets his idol, and begs Houdini to explain himself. A mysterious locked box is the magician’s only answer, and Victor is left to wonder: Does the box contain the secrets to the most famous magic tricks ever performed?”

Pardon any potentially reductive comparisons about to come your way (man, that should be added more often) when I say this really brings Hugo back to mind. A fictional boy encounters a real-life magician, he’s given a mysterious object that needs to be unlocked, and the actual unlocking will bring forth a wonderful reward.

Not that this is really a concern. Some quick scanning shows a positive reception for The Houdini Box, so that’s already a plus; considering how much I loved the prior Selznick adaptation, too, there’s an instant level of attraction. I’m not expecting Scorsese to come back aboard, but perhaps one of his ’70s brethren can take it up for themselves. Maybe Brian De Palma?

No, that would be mortifying.

Does The Houdini Box have strong potential for a feature film?

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