“Airbender” Trilogy could take Six Years to Complete

Starlog, a well-regarded Science Fiction magazine, has quotes from Noah Ringer, Dev Patel, director M. Night Shyamalan and producer Frank Marshall regarding The Last Airbender trilogy.  They speak about the first film in the trilogy as well as a loose outline for the filming of the trilogy.

“I knew about the cartoon three years before,” notes Ringer, who makes his movie debut as Aang, the titular Last Airbender. “Ever since I’ve been shaving my head, everybody has called me Aang. I watched the show because everybody would tell me, ‘You have to watch this cartoon. He looks just like you!’ The movie is definitely different [from the TV series], but if we would’ve done the same thing as the cartoon, what would be exciting about that? It’s fun to change that and do something new.”Aang is pursued throughout the film by Prince Zuko, played by Patel in his first role since 2009 Best Picture Oscar winner SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. “Zuko is a boy, and he’s struggling to impress his father and trying to get his honor and love back,” remarks Patel. “And then there’s Shaun Toub, who plays my Uncle, and who treats Zuko like a son. Like in life, you take your anger out on the people you love the most, and Zuko sort of neglects his uncle because he’s on this one-track mission to find this boy. It makes it really interesting. They have a good dynamic: This naïve boy who acts on aggression all of the time, and then you have this wise, older uncle who is like the calm within the storm. It’s a good dynamic.”

Many people were surprised when it was announced that the director of THE SIXTH SENSE, SIGNS and THE HAPPENING would next be helming a planned trilogy of pictures based on a children’s TV show. “THE LAST AIRBENDER will be a very entertaining movie, a really fun summer film,” says Shyamalan. “But underneath that, it’s serious and talks about genocide, balance, our connection to the planet and all those things that interest me if you’ve seen the other movies that I’ve made. It felt like an important film.”

Unlike Peter Jackson’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS, this trio of films won’t lense back-to-back-to-back. “We’re shooting them one at a time, because they’re being written one at a time,” says veteran producer Frank Marshall. “Night is now working on the script for the second movie, but he hasn’t had time to write the second or third ones. He’s looking at the arc of all three. One of the things we’ll be doing is using the sets, ships and elements for each different nation in this film and incorporating them into movies two and three. We’re not waiting. There just isn’t enough time. Night will finish this movie, then the script and then we’ll prepare for the next one. I think it’ll probably happen over six years.”

Night is no stranger to writing during the post-production process of a film.  He’s done that pretty much after each film that he’s made.  This means that the films could likely come out in 2010, 2013 and 2016, if they keep the summer releases.  However, they could release a bit quicker if they do them over the next six years, with the last one releasing in 2015.



    • It’s not actually typical for film trilogies to come out as fast as Twilight is coming (three movies within 19 months). Each Star Wars trilogy took just as long.

  1. Oh come on guys! You know we’ll only get to see the first one cause of 2012!!! Kidding…watched that trailer after Airbender…both look EPIC!

  2. thats weird its only 3 books why is it going to take 6 years its not hard to get acters

    • Because of the time it takes to develop the screenplays and to shoot, edit and make special effects.

  3. Hm…If this is going to take three years, how is it going to play out for the actor portraying the characters. Noah is twelve right now, in six years he will be 18. An 18 year cannot portray a 12 year old.


    • You’d be surprised how old some actors are that play younger. Besides, if it takes six years for the third film to come out, that means they’ll film it when he’s 17. Not much different, sure, but still, it works. It’s why sometimes they’ll cast older teenagers / twenty year olds that look younger, to play younger roles. Look at the cast of High School Musical. Many are in their twenties, and were when they were filming the first one.

      • 6 years to tell a story that takes place within a 1 year time frame.
        I highly doubt Noah Ringer will look 12 years old at the age of 17…
        and if he somehow does “look” 12
        How are they going to prevent his voice from cracking?
        I hope that acting camp he went to teaches him how to reverse the stages of puberty.

        • It took 18 months to film The Lord of the Rings, with re-filming done each year prior to each film’s release. And they sometimes had 14 scenes shooting at exactly the same time, from each film. How does that work with a smaller cast in only one year? It doesn’t. That’s just nitpicky and unrealistic.

          • or they can change the storyline
            and have 6 years in between Aang getting unfrozen and Sozin’s Comet.
            but, then the story will lose its epicness of a 12 year old boy saving the world.

          • Sorry, dude… there’s just no viable way to do that in a live-action motion picture series. I’d like to see you try. How much do you know about filmmaking?

  4. I think it’s already been confirmed that each individual movie will span one year a piece… Thank god for that because seriously the entire three seasons of the TV show taking place in only one year seemed completely unrealistic to me.

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