The WWII novel The War Magician is unlike any other story for the period out there, which is why it's surprising the adaptation has had such difficulty getting made. The film has been in development for nearly ten years with Peter Weir and Marc Forster attached at various times without anything moving forward. Now that seems to be changing but not by hiring a director first, instead by landing a first rate star in Benedict Cumberbatch.
Perhaps sensing another Oscar contender similar to his performance in The Imitation Game, Cumberbatch has joined The War Magician which centers on the supposed WWII exploits of famed magician and illusionist, Jasper Maskelyne. Penned by Gary Whitta, the film is based on David Fisher's book which glorifies Maskelyne's unconfirmed accomplishments as a trickster for British intelligence, creating fake bomb holes, dummy men, and camouflaged pillboxes, and dummy airplanes to fool the Germans. By most accounts Maskelyne wasn't very successful at what he set out to do, but as the consummate showman he spent much of his life exaggerating his actual usefulness. Fisher's book takes him at face value, though.
Next up is to find a director, and having a star like Cumberbatch should make that task much easier. Perhaps a reunion with The Imitation Game's Morten Tyldum?