In an age where we lack action heroes and recognition factor is key for franchiseability (a new made-up word), Hollywood is turning to history for new characters. In addition to all the King Arthur stories that are brewing, Leonardo DaVinci, Marco Polo, and Harry Houdini are quickly being reworked into the 21st century's Indiana Jones or Sherlock Holmes.
As Eugene Novikov reported earlier today, Warner Bros is looking at making the actual Leonardo DaVinci into the star of his own DaVinci Code type of movie. Last week, Variety reported that they've also hired Francis Lawrence to develop an action movie starring 13th century adventurer Marco Polo. Most people only know Polo as a cheesy pool game, but he was an extensive traveler who was one of the first Europeans to travel throughout Asia. He wasn't the first, but his journals exposed many Europeans to the Far East, and really kicked off the obsession with finding trade routes there. A straight-up adaptation of his journal would be enough for a movie, but Warner Bros wants to make it a fantasy adventure. "We see this as something that takes place in the Orient of our imagination amid the cultural clash of the East and the West," says Adam Cooper, one half of Marco Polo's screenwriting team.
Last March, Summit began lining up its post-Twilight ducks, and decided one of them could be Harry Houdini. As Monika reported last year, they purchased rights to William Kalush and Larry Sloman's controversial The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero. Kalush and Sloman concocted a theory that Houdini was a spy for England, was asked to advise Tsar Nicholas II, and may have been murdered by a cult. I believe most of the book was debunked, but Summit has the idea of running with its sheer, crazy fiction and creating a Houdini action franchise.