Hollywood’s top A-list director, James Cameron, has snatched up the film rights to Taylor Stevens’ novel “The Informationist,” about a great new action heroine, Vanessa Michael Munroe; a young woman with no fear she can’t conquer. Monroe makes her living by traveling the world in search of information that will make companies more savvy and her quit wealthy. The project will mark an interesting departure from the Avatar sequels Cameron is currently working on. Based on the prevailing rumors, Cameron can’t wait to start production on “The Informationist.”
Cameron’s production company, Lightstorm Entertainment, has optioned the rights to the debut book by Taylor Stevens, with plans for Cameron to direct it for 20th Century Fox.
A thriller set in Africa, “The Informationist” specifically follows Vanessa Munroe, a researcher hired to help find the missing daughter of a Texas oil billionaire. The book is the first in a planned seven-part series, and critics have compared its lead character with another hyper-capable heroine, Lisbeth Salander of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” series.
“This is one of the most cinematic books I’ve ever read,” said Jon Landau, Cameron’s producing partner. “And it’s got all the classic Jim Cameron elements — a female protagonist who is smart, physically adept and skilled, great action, an unexpected love story.”
Landau said Cameron found the book himself — “Jim is a reading sponge” — and will hire a screenwriter to adapt it while he’s in production on the “Avatar” sequels.
“The writing process, the perfect time to do that is when you’re in production on something else,” Landau said. “You need the relief during the process of making a movie like ‘Avatar’ where you can escape on a weekend and read a draft.”
Landau declined to say when the “Avatar” follow-ups would start shooting but said some aspects of pre-production had begun.
“We don’t have a shooting script, but we have a direction we’re going in,” he said.
Cameron, will begin work on “The Informationist” after he finishes the next two installments of “Avatar” for 20th Century Fox.
Those looking forward to Cameron’s work with “The Informationist” should plan to be patient — Cameron’s main focus is “Avatar.”
It’s unlikely he’ll get to tackle his new bigscreen adaptation until 2015 or beyond.
“I’m in the ‘Avatar’ business. Period. That’s it,” he told The New York Times in May. “I’m making ‘Avatar 2,’ ‘Avatar 3,’ maybe ‘Avatar 4,’ and I’m not going to produce other people’s movies for them. I’m not interested in taking scripts.”
Cameron recently told MTV News that he is even toying with the idea of making a fourth “Avatar” film, but this one as a prequel to the series. “I have an idea for a fourth. I haven’t really put pen to paper on it, but basically, it goes back to the early expeditions of Pandora, and kind of what went wrong with the humans and the Na’vi and what that was like to be an explorer and living in that world,” he said.
But the fourth installation of “Avatar” exists solely in the filmmaker’s head, and as Lightstorm partner Jon Landau insists, the duo will only be working on the first two sequels back-to-back for now.
“This was an opportunity to continue our relationship with Fox and Jim Gianopulos beyond the ‘Avatar’ films. 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 – in this case Vanessa Munroe is essentially a mix of Lisbeth Salander and Jason Bourne,” remarked Landau.
“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.”
Author Taylor Stevens has a background every bit as intriguing as her heroine’s. Born in New York State, and into the Children of God, an apocalyptic religious cult spun from the Jesus Movement of the ’60s, Stevens was raised in communes across the globe. Separated from her family at age twelve and denied an education beyond sixth grade, she lived on three continents and in a dozen countries before reaching fourteen. In place of schooling, the majority of her adolescence was spent begging on city streets at the behest of cult leaders, or as a worker bee child, caring for the many younger commune children, washing laundry and cooking meals for hundreds at a time. In her twenties, Stevens broke free in order to follow hope and a vague idea of what possibilities lay beyond. She now lives in Texas, and juggles full-time writing with full-time motherhood.