John Maybury, who previously directed experimental Francis Bacon biopic Love Is The Devil, is set to direct an adaptation of JG Ballard's futuristic thriller Super-Cannes.

The project marks the revival of a relationship between veteran British producer Jeremy Thomas' Recorded Pictures Company (RPC) and the controversial Ballard.

Ballard, who wrote Empire Of The Sun, the Japanese prison camp drama adapted by Stephen Spielberg, is probably best known to the film public for the RPC-produced Crash. The high-octane sex and automobiles film adaptation directed by David Cronenberg provoked howls of outrage when it screened in competition at Cannes in 1996. In Ballard's native UK the film was banned by some local authorities including Westminster, the country's cinema capital.

Super-Cannes is a cunningly subversive thriller, written in the style of an amateur detective novel. It features an ageing former pilot and his young doctor wife, who is employed as the on-site medic at a high tech business park. The story unfolds as the pilot uncovers a seamy underside of racist beatings, child prostitution and criminality-as-sport at the outwardly dull and pristine science park. Thomas originally took an option two years ago.

A first draft of the screenplay has been completed by Paul Mayersberg, the writer behind breakout hit Croupier and for the last four years a permanent Cannes resident.

While sources close to the project have suggested that filming could begin within 12-18 months, Thomas told Screen International: "Until we have a finished script there can be no decisions on casting, budget or start of shoot."

Maybury has long been tipped to direct Marlowe, a period piece about one of Shakespeare's rivals, Christopher Marlowe. The film, which is in development was previously set up at Natural Nylon and is now housed within Damon Bryant's Sonnet Films.

Mayersberg's previous credits include the adaptation of Walter Tevis novel The Man Who Fell To Earth for director Nicolas Roeg, and the adaptation with Oshima Nagisa of Laurens Van Der Post's novel The Seed And The Sower as Oshima's Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence.

Mayersberg, who also wrote and directed 1990's The Last Samurai, has also been commissioned to adapt another Ballard novel, Cocaine Nights as a mini-series for Granada Television. Among literary critics the book is widely seen as a prequel to Super-Cannes.