Variety reports that director Marc Forster, who recently wrapped World War Z starring Brad Pitt, has attached himself to The War Magician, an adaptation of David Fisher's best-selling novel on the life of British magician Jasper Maskelyne. Lonetree Entertainment will produce the film.
The book is described as follows:
Jasper Maskelyne was a world famous magician and illusionist in the 1930s. When war broke out, he volunteered his services to the British Army and was sent to Eygpt where the desert war had just begun. He used his skills to save the vital port of Alexandria from German bombers and to 'hide' the Suez Canal from them. He invented all sorts of camouflage methods to make trucks look like tanks and vice versa. Working for military intelligence, he put on a stage show inside the Royal Palace in Cairo in order to locate an enemy spy's radio transmitter. On Malta he developed 'the world's first portable holes': fake bomb craters used to fool the Germans into thinking they had hit their targets. His war culminated in the brilliant deception plan that won the Battle of El Alamein: the creation of an entire dummy army in the middle of the desert.
The trade says the book was first purchased by Tom Cruise and set up at Paramount with Cruise attached to star.
UPDATE: Just hours after posting the above news, Variety is now saying that Forster is no longer on board:
Helmer Marc Forster is no longer attached to World War II drama "The War Magician."
The project, set up at Lonetree Entertainment, is based on David Fisher's best-selling book and tells the story of real-life British magician Jasper Maskelyne, who adapted the core principles of stage magic to World War II. Forster had been eying the project but is no longer involved, his reps confirmed Thursday.