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.