The Hunger Games director will helm Houdini, which is based on the 2006 biography The Secret Life of Houdini, The Making of America's First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman, says The Hollywood Reporter.
The book implied that the infamous magician and escape artist was also a spy for Britain and helped the Secret Service.
Noah Oppenheim has written the first draft of the project for Summit Entertainment.
Gary Ross blamed the "tight production schedule" for his reason for backing out of directing the Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire.
Catching Fire will now be directed by I Am Legend's Francis Lawrence.
Hugh Jackman is set to star in a new musical about the magician - also called Houdini - in 2013 on Broadway.