The Tracking Board has learned that Sacha Baron Cohen will star in Warner Bros. live-action adaptation of the classic comic strip character "Mandrake the Magician." TCB's unnamed sources indicate that the film is expected to update the character, who debuted in 1934, for modern audiences. Baron Cohen will play Mandrake, an illusionist and escape artist that is recruited by the United States government for a top secret mission.
Etan Cohen (writer/director "Get Hard") will direct the film from a script by David Peoples, Janet Peoples and Tom Wheeler. Charles Roven and Andy Horowitz will produce the film, while Alan Glazer and Rocky Shepard will serve as EPs. Cate Adams and Jesse Ehrman will oversee for Warner Bros.
Mandrake was created by Lee Falk, just before he created fellow news strip hero the Phantom. Phil Davis came aboard as artist and illustrated Falk's scripts early in Mandrake's run. The character, who predates Superman by four years, is sometimes called the first superhero thanks to his abilities and globetrotting adventures.
"Mandrake the Magician" has been in development since 2007, with a number of directors (including Mimi Leder) and actors (Hayden Christensen and Jonathan Rhys Meyers among them) attached to the project. "Mandrake" was adapted into a 12-part serial in 1939, and also had a TV movie in 1979. The character has recently appeared in comics published by Dynamite Entertainment, where he crossed over with other King Features heroes.