Chernin chains helmer to ‘Houdini Box’

Irish filmmaker Kealan O'Rourke to write, direct adaptation

Chernin Entertainment brandished its magic wand to tap Irish filmmaker Kealan O’Rourke, who will write and direct the adaptation of Brian Selznick’s young adult novel “The Houdini Box.”

A representative for Chernin had no comment.

Published in 1991, book centers on a young boy and aspiring magician who meets his idol Harry Houdini at a train station and begs the famed illusionist to explain his tricks, eliciting a promise from Houdini to write. The boy finally receives a letter inviting him to Houdini’s house — only to discover that Houdini died that day and left him a mysterious, locked box.

Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping will produce, while Kerry Foster will oversee the project for Chernin.

Project is one of several in the works about Houdini, as Sony and Summit are developing a pair of pics about the magician, while Aaron Sorkin is working on a stage musical that would star Hugh Jackman.

Selznick is the author of “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” which was adapted into Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo.”

A veteran director of short films, O’Rourke is developing his award-winning short “The Boy in the Bubble” as an animated feature. He’s also attached to write and direct an animated adaptation of Archaia Entertainment’s upcoming graphic novel “Bolivar” for Warner Bros and Akiva Goldsman’s Weed Road banner.

O’Rourke is repped by Paradigm, 3 Arts Entertainment and attorney Robert Szymanski.

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