Helmer may make film before 'Avatar'

Despite expectations that M. Night Shyamalan will be engaging James Cameron in a battle of avatars, the director wants to first wage a battle between man vs. nature.

When the writer-director traveled from Philadelphia to Hollywood recently to cement his plan to turn the cartoon “Avatar: The Last Airbender” into a live-action film for Paramount, he and his new CAA reps showed several studios a new script he’s written. Called “The Green Effect,” the film is about a large-scale, cataclysmic environmental crisis that turns into a struggle by mankind to overcome nature.

The unveiling of the script did not immediately create a green effect for Shyamalan, as no studio liked it enough to take it off the table. Studios are understandably wary, since Shyamalan is coming off the first failure of his career, “Lady in the Water.”

Shyamalan was personally hurt when ex-Disney production president Nina Jacobson told him point-blank she didn’t get his “Lady in the Water” script and didn’t like his decision to cast himself in the pic.

It ended his relationship with Disney — where he made “The Sixth Sense” and his subsequent films — and set the film up at Warner Bros.

Jacobson’s reservations were consistent with the reaction of critics to a film that wilted in the heat of rival summer releases.

Shyamalan might not have gotten over the Disney rejection –sources say the Mouse was not a stop on his recent tour — but he apparently has become better at taking criticism from studio execs.

He walked away from his round of meetings with ideas and notes and has gone home to do a rewrite. Shyamalan will return within a month, armed with a script that will bear a new title, along with a cast and budget.

If the revamp scores Shyamalan a deal, he’ll likely make the film before the “Avatar” pic.

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