×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

David Copperfield Conjures Own Production Shingle

Illusionist’s Red Safe looks to collaborate on raft of projects, expanding his Hollywood cred

The most commercially successful magician of the modern era now wants to conjure his own movie, television and theater projects. David Copperfield, who has won 21 Emmys for his TV specials and generated more than $4 billion in ticket sales for his live shows, has launched a new production shingle called Red Safe in his hometown of Las Vegas that both formalizes his ongoing consulting relationship with Hollywood producers and sets him on a path to team with them on creative ideas that he generates inhouse.

“This is not about tricks and illusions — it’s all about the story,” Copperfield said in an interview with Variety to announce his new banner. “ I admire, love and respect those who get the story and special effects to look seamless, because you have to work so hard to make it seem effortless.”

The illusionist, who last week celebrated his 57th birthday, has consulted on a number of films including those in the “Harry Potter” and “Paranormal Activity” franchises and most recently on this summer’s sleeper hit “Now You See Me,” which has grossed $321 million worldwide to date. Copperfield’s Portal illusion, in which he transports himself and a member of the audience to a pre-selected location (such as Hawaii or the Hoover Dam) before reappearing onstage, inspired the opening scene in “Now You See Me,” where four Las Vegas magicians enlist someone from the audience to rob a bank in Paris.

It took Copperfi eld half a dozen years to develop the Portal, which the film’s screenwriter, Edward Ricourt, happened to see one night in Las Vegas.

“I think the great thing about ‘Now You See Me’ is that it made magicians look cool,” Copperfi eld noted. “The story was current and the action kept flowing. In magic, if you keep standing still, it really stops the action.”

“Now You See Me” director Louis Leterrier has become a fan: “David Copperfield is the most passionate of cinephiles, and I know that if he wasn’t the greatest magician alive, he would be a revolutionary filmmaker,” he said.

Copperfield, who along with his longtime associates Chris Kenner and Homer Liwag received a “special thanks” in “Now You See Me’s” screen credits, was also pleased that the picture eschewed the conventions of the traditional presentation of magic and illusion.

Harry Houdini was dressed in a tux when he performed, because that’s how men dressed at the time,” said Copperfield, who appeared as himself — sans tux — in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” earlier this year. “But when that became a tradition, wearing a tux began to look a little dated.”

Red Safe derives its name from the special vault Copperfi eld keeps at his complex in Las Vegas to store his most prized and rarest artifacts, including Houdini’s water torture cabinet and his metamorphosis trunk. Cooperfield said his personal favorites in the vault are the journals and inventions of 19th century French magician Robert Houdin, and writings and props of French filmmaker and special effects innovator Georges Melies (who shot the 1902 sci-fi classic “A Trip to the Moon”).

Only a few select Hollywood fi lmmakers — Christopher Nolan, Guillermo del Toro, Francis Ford Coppola among them — have been allowed access to Copperfield’s treasure trove of 80,000 books, illusions, posters and memorabilia that cover the entire history of magic.

“A lot of what I’ve collected is irreplaceable,” Copperfield said. “The museum contains thousands of real stories of mystery and magic.”

Copperfield isn’t saying yet which projects Red Safe will develop, but he indicated the company will likely take on established production partners on those that get to the shooting stage.

“We love collaboration, and we will take the time to get it right,” he said. “Serendipity can lead to great things.”

Copperfield admitted that the increasing sophistication of vfx in films and TV has challenged him to push boundaries to keep his act fresh. “The improved use of effects has forced me to improve my game, story-wise and effects-wise,” said the magician, who owns 11 islands in the Bahamas (dubbed the Islands of Copperfield Bay), which he’s magically transformed into a $35 million private resort.

And there’s also no illusion as to who’s ultimately in charge of Red Safe: It’s David Copperfield.

“I really am playing the Walt Disney role here,” he noted.

More Biz

  • Times Up Hollywood

    Time's Up Entertainment Announces New Industry Mentoring Initiative

    Time’s Up Entertainment, an affiliate of the Time’s Up coalition of women across industries working to improve workplace safety, has announced the “Who’s in the Room” industry mentoring initiative. The program’s goal is to increase the presence of people of color from diverse backgrounds in the entertainment industry’s executive ranks. Funded by a $500,000 grant from [...]

  • Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in

    Paramount Inks Deal for Theme Park in South Korea

    Paramount Pictures has announced a deal to install a studio-branded theme park in an entertainment resort being developed in South Korea. The agreement was struck between Paramount and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, which owns the Inspire Integrated Entertainment Resort in the South Korean city of Incheon. Mohegan has invested KRW 2.8 trillion ($2.4 billion) in [...]

  • Davan Maharaj Mel Gibson

    L.A. Times Publisher's Lawyer Was Accused of Extorting Mel Gibson

    The attorney who negotiated a $2.5 million exit package for L.A. Times publisher Davan Maharaj was previously accused of using secret recordings to extort actor Mel Gibson. Surreptitious recordings also figure in the Maharaj case. NPR reported on Wednesday that Maharaj taped Tronc chairman Michael Ferro. According to the report, Ferro was heard on the [...]

  • 'Blurred Lines' Suit Ends With $5

    'Blurred Lines' Suit Ends With $5 Million Judgement Against Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams

    After five years, the legal battle over the copyright of the Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit “Blurred Lines” has ended, with Marvin Gaye’s family being awarded a final judgment of nearly $5 million against the song’s primary writers, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, according to CNN and other reports. The pair were accused of copyright infringement [...]

  • WME Veteran Ari Greenburg Promoted to

    WME Veteran Ari Greenburg Promoted to President of Talent Agency

    WME veteran Ari Greenburg, one of the original Endeavor staffers who helped build the talent agency that became an industry powerhouse, has been promoted to president. Greenburg will oversee all daily operations across WME and its offices in Beverly Hills, New York, Nashville, London and Sydney. The promotion recognizes the role that Greenburg has played [...]

  • Alison Wenham Steps Down as CEO

    Alison Wenham Steps Down as CEO of WIN

    After 12 years at the helm of the Worldwide Independent Network, a global trade organization for the independent music industry, Alison Wenham is stepping down as Chief Executive, it was announced today. Prior to joining WIN full time in 2016 Alison was CEO of The Association of Independent Music (AIM), which she started in 1999. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content