Last Airbender Trilogy Not Being Filmed Back-To-Back, May Take Over 6 Years To Complete

Last Airbender producer Frank Marshall recently confirmed that the trilogy of films will not be filmed back-to-back (Lord of the Rings style), but will instead be shot one at a time. M. Night Shyamalan is still working on the script for the second film, while also sketching out the trilogy's greater mythology. Marshall notes that they still plan to take advantage of the sets and other elements from the first film in the sequels:

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.

He also confirmed on Twitter that fan-favorite animal characters Appa (a flying bison, think Neverending Story), and Momo will be in the film.

As a fan of the series, I've been following M. Night Shyamalan's adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender with some trepidation over the past few months. The whitewashing of the main cast—in addition to Shyamalan's now uncertain reputation—all led me to believe that this would probably end up being some dumbed down childrens fantasy series. For those not in the know, the original Nickelodeon series was one of those rare kids shows that was actually smart and maintained a compelling serial narrative. (Netflix members can watch the first season streaming online.)

Then the teaser trailer hit, and I was reminded why I'm such a fan of Shyamalan's visual sense. I've always thought that he would be better off adapting someone else's story,  and I'm now excited to see what it would be like for him to shoot action. Given the generally positive reaction to the teaser, it's clear that this film will be a huge event next summer, and it's definitely the biggest thing Shyamalan has ever been a part of. Regardless if it's good or not, the film will likely make boatloads of money, and will rescue Shyamalan from his current funk.

Shyamalan notes that he'll be trying to tackle the deeper elements of the Airbender story as well:

The Last Airbender will be a very entertaining movie, a really fun summer film. 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.

I know the teaser didn't really show much to excite people unfamiliar with the series, but I'm confident that over the next year we'll see more footage that will prove this is a film to keep an eye on for July 2010.

Source: Starlog via Last Airbender Film