(Avatar:) The Last Airbender to hit screens in 2010

Avatar: The Last AirbenderM. Night Shyamalan’s live-action adaptation of the animated television series Avatar: The Last Airbender has received an official release date. According to Variety, Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies announced the film, re-titled The Last Airbender to avoid confusion with James Cameron’s Avatar, will see release on July 2, 2010. It is the first film to lay claim to that date so far.

Shyamalan, whose film The Happening will be released on June 13, tells Empire Online that he was drawn to the Buddhist and Hindu aspects of the show, noting, “When I realized that is what it was, it really drew me as the template for putting storytelling on a new level. There is a kind of thread that connects Star Wars and The Matrix — the first one. That same thread is in this story, about a forgotten belief system, or the illusion of the world now.”

He describes the plot as being

in a place where there are four tribes of people. And these people each have people within their tribe that have mastery over one element: water, earth, fire or air. They all live in a balance and harmony and once every generation there is born an individual who can bend — that is manipulate — all four of those elements and thereby keep a balance between all. They are kind of a Buddha figure to some extent. The story is about how, in this particular time, this avatar is born into the airbenders and disappears. Then all hell breaks loose and the fire nation basically commits genocide and eradicates the air tribe in the hopes of killing the avatar and taking over control of everything. This child then re-emerges, which is the beginning of our story. He reappears having been frozen in the ice — there is a whole story about how that happens — a hundred years later and this world is all fucked up and he is the last airbender, but he doesn’t want this job. He’s forced into the position of putting the world back together again. It actually has a lot of Shakespearean overtones to it. There’s lots of family angst, and fathers denying sons in different storylines.

The film, the first of a planned trilogy, will be shot in Philadelphia and Greenland. In keeping with the series, which was heavily influenced by Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle), Shyamalan is aiming to “make a live-action version of a Miyazaki film.” Reading the interview at Empire Online, it is clear that he has a deep reverence for the source material. And I have to say, despite how bad The Village was, I have high hopes that the mind behind Unbreakable will lead this project to success.

Related posts: Trailer Watch: Vexille, Redbelt, The Happening (updated)

Posted on April 15, 2008 at 21:08 by JasonS@MovieMakeout · Permalink
In: News · Tagged with: ,

16 Responses

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  1. Written by Caolan
    on 2008-04-15 at 21:31

    If he’s trying for a Miyazaki-esque film, then no matter how the movie itself is, it’s going to be really pretty to watch. This could be cool.

    And I find it odd that you liked Unbreakable but not the Village. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just usually the other way around.

  2. Written by Gordon McAlpin
    on 2008-04-15 at 21:34

    I haven’t seen much by Shyamalan, but regardless of how gimmicky some of his scripts have been, he’s a fantastic director: he’s great with tone, has a strong visual eye, and he’s good with actors.

    This being an adaptation, that’s not really a factor, and the fact that it’s a children’s movie will probably force him to keep things simple and straightforward, too. This could be some fun shit.

    I’ve been wanting to see Shyamalan tackle someone else’s story for a long time.

  3. Written by Ronell Whitaker
    on 2008-04-17 at 16:59

    I LOVED Unbreakable. It is still one of the best superhero movies, period. I hope I think M. Night has a great eye for story and allowing the audience to live in an environment that he creates.

  4. Written by Lopez
    on 2008-04-20 at 01:38

    2010? I’ll be far too old for it to be socially acceptable that I go and see this movie by then!!

    It’s interesting that M. Night describes an avatar as a Buddha-like figure, when the word itself really implies a god incarnate, for example, Krishna as the avatar of the godhead Vishnu. The airbender character Aang just happens to have been raised by monks that are visually directed (by their baldness and saffron robes) to be Tibetan Buddhist! Also the hostility directed toward them by the fire nation, who themselves represent an amalgam of Imperial and Communist China. The cartoon can get surprisingly complex.


    If anything, the visuals should be good, but the underlying story of the cartoon is the kind that can be royally fucked up in execution if you’re not careful; Shyamalan citing “Star Wars” actually has me worried, because those movies’ plots are a bit, um, bad. Also, Miyazaki’s original films are great and all, but his interpretations of other people’s work (“Howl’s Moving Castle”, “Earthsea”) are bizarre and convoluted even for people familiar with the material… I’d like to have hope, and I liked The Sixth Sense and all, but I can’t muster up enough optimism. And my skeptic senses are tingling: filming in Philly? I can see Greenland because of the snow and all, but Philadelphia?

  5. Written by Gordon McAlpin
    on 2008-04-21 at 16:02

    Probably sets and green screens in Philly, Lopez. Shyamalan lives there and probably wants to bring in some Hollywood money to the local coffers.

  6. Written by Lopez
    on 2008-04-24 at 12:33

    Ah! I see now. Thanks Mr. McA.

    Here’s hoping that the cast doesn’t involve a lot of big names that the kiddies will like, like Drake Bell, or Zac Efron. I will puke.

  7. Written by Johanna
    on 2008-05-12 at 12:28


    yay for non-ghetto stuff actually happening!

  8. Written by anng
    on 2008-05-31 at 12:21

    i hope there is a book 4 coming soon i am a big fan now i hope it dont end i saw the new trailer it is so cool/hot/wow there have to be more avatar the last airbender i like the show season 3 headband i like the song it was cool when anng and katara dance there have to be more avatar the last airbender it is COOL/HOT WOWE/………………………AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER……………

  9. Written by c3aang
    on 2008-07-20 at 11:35

    i am totally phyced for this movie. i was so sad when the series ended and felt like a part of me died along with it (being a hardcore avatar fan for the last 3 years of my life). if he can pull it off. its gonna be great shit.

  10. Written by trina
    on 2008-08-01 at 16:50

    can anyone tell me where the casting calls will be


  11. Written by Ruby(avatarfan)
    on 2008-08-11 at 08:05

    Avatar is the best show I have ever seen when the show first ended I was gloomy for two days I just couldn’t stop thinking about it and just c3aang said I felt like a part of me died. I just hope he can make a great movie, i want to watch it so bad!

  12. Written by Barbra
    on 2008-12-01 at 22:25

    ok, I don’t know how they are going to make a LIVE ACTION movie about avatar. I mean, its a cartoon and if they did a movie, I belive it would be in everyones best inrest for it to STAY a cartoon! They won’t be able to find a real sokka, aang, katara, zuko, or anyone else.

  13. Written by allison
    on 2008-12-18 at 05:06

    i love the show but the people that play them no….

  14. Written by gabriel
    on 2009-02-23 at 05:41

    It is much better if Joe Jonas as Zuko and that Dev Petel as Sokka .

  15. Written by gabriel
    on 2009-02-23 at 05:42

    It is much better if Joe Jonas as Zuko and that Dev Petel as Sokka .
    for me….because of skin….

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