Cuaron in talks to helm pic as Shyamalan hits 'Water'

Fox 2000 Pictures is in advanced talks with the Warner Bros.-based director Alfonso Cuaron (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”) to replace M. Night Shyamalan as the helmer of “Life of Pi.”

Fox appears to be breaking with Shyamalan over his decision to make his next picture Warner’s “Lady in the Water” instead of “Pi,” an adaptation of the Booker Prize-winning bestseller by Yann Martel. Unwilling to wait a year and a half for Shyamalan to finish “Water,” Fox was happy to take a call from Cuaron’s reps at William Morris offering his services.

Details are still being worked out– Cuaron has “Children of Men” casting at Universal; Fox must wangle a split rights deal with Warners in exchange for access to Cuaron — but negotiations for the Oscar-nommed Mexican helmer are expected to proceed apace.

Shyamalan’s commitment to “Pi” was announced with great fanfare in October 2003. At the time, Fox 2000 prexy Elizabeth Gabler went so far as to call Shyamalan’s attachment to “Pi” one of the “best marriages of filmmaker and material possible,” since the helmer’s birthplace is Pondicherry, India, where the fantastical “Pi” begins.

It now appears that marriage will not be consummated, since Warner’s “Lady in the Water” has already locked up talent deals with Paul Giamatti and Bryce Dallas Howard. It is expected to go before cameras in August.

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