Director will produce, possibly helm adaptation of Taylor Stevens novel for Fox

James Cameron has scooped up film rights to Taylor Stevens’ tome “The Informationist,” marking a rare project that has piqued the helmer’s interest outside of work on the next two “Avatar” installments.

Cameron, who will produce under his Lightstorm Entertainment banner with partner Jon Landau, will begin work on “The Informationist” after he finishes the next two installments of “Avatar” for 20th Century Fox. He’s eyeing “Informationist” as a directing vehicle at the studio, which is tentatively scheduled to release the third “Avatar” installment in 2015.

“Informationist” will deepen the duo’s ties to 20th Century Fox topper Jim Gianopulos, a ferocious champion of “Avatar” during its early — and expensive — stages.

But Cameron’s full dancecard means it’s unlikely he’ll get to tackle his new bigscreen adaptation until 2015 or beyond.

The helmer told the New York Times in May that he had basically “disbanded” his company’s development arm and that he wasn’t “interested in developing anything.”

But Landau said Stevens’ book had something that overcame Cameron’s instinct to stick to his “Avatar” projects.

“When you find a diamond in the rough, even if you’re not looking for diamonds, you’re going to pick up that diamond,” Landau told Variety. “I think what Jim was saying is we no longer have an active development department. We’re not out there soliciting, we don’t want to be inundated with scripts … if something inspires Jim, we’re going to get involved with it.”

Published last year, Stevens’ “The Informationist” centers on Vanessa “Michael” Munroe, an information specialist who counts heads of state as clients. When a Texas oil billionaire hires her to find his missing daughter, Munroe finds she must face a past she’s tried hard to forget.

Broadway Publishing released the second novel based on the Munroe character earlier this year. Describing the hero as a “female Jason Bourne,” Landau said he could picture the series as a potential franchise.

“The book itself is one of the most cinematic books I think either (Jim or I) has ever read,” Landau said. “Then deep within that story are all the things that Jim Cameron puts into his movies: a female heroine who’s smart, who has an intellect and not just a physical prowess.”

Stevens, who has already penned a third novel in the series, has an interesting backstory herself. Born into a religious cult, the scribe spent most of her childhood begging in the streets at the command of religious leaders or caring for younger commune children. She left the group, Children of God, in her 20s and now writes full-time from her home in Texas.

“Informationist” will also further Lightstorm’s relationship with 20th Century Fox, which Gianopulos will run solo come Jan. 1, as co-chairman Tom Rothman confirmed he would ankle his post at the end of the year.

“This was an opportunity to continue our relationship with Fox and Jim Gianopulos beyond the ‘Avatar’ films,” Landau said in an official release from Fox announcing the book deal. “We were drawn to this book because of the terrific, compelling narrative and the character, who typifies the strong female protagonists that have inhabited Jim’s work.”

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