"The Last Airbender" Movie Thread
Wait, so Shayamalama wasn’t the one ultimately to blame for ruining this movie? Reality has just been turned upside down.
What a twist!
So M Night was one of the very few people on the team who actually cared, but corporate executives fucked everything up to the point where he gave up?
That’s…actually really sad, especially since everyone blames HIM for the disaster.
The greatest Shyamalan twist of them all.
#tbh i’m not even surprised by this?#and what’s extra fucked up is bryan and mike have been extra fucking shady about it#and continue to fuel the shyamalan hate#(while ironically refusing to take any responsibility when ppl. take them to task for their own creative decisions#incl. historical/cultural erasures and failure to do sth as simple as color-match skintones //in animation//)#what’s fucked up is both their hypocrisy and the fact that shyamalan’s career is the one to take on the brunt of this movie’s failure#while their market value has only skyrocketed#and ofc that the opportunities wrt the atla film that could have been being lost to the hollywood machine#but considering the position they were in when that deal was struck#bryan and mike could have probably pushed for more contractual control— esp. as white men seen to be sitting on a goldmine—#(ex.: suzanne collins iirc //had// to flex on katniss’s casting for thg but was able to be rly. firm w. rue’s race as a result)#if they so cared to do so#and inexperienced as they may have been w. movie production show business and the arts are literally full of this#so at v. least they could be more graceful about the whole thing considering m. night’s the one to foot the prof’nl. bill anyway#but who am i kidding#bryke? handle sth w. class and aplomb? ha ha ho ho it is to laugh.#[and i hate to say that kind of shit abt. ppl. but they’ve been reeeeeeal pricks to and about their fans + prof’nl. associates as mentioned#so i’m really done being disappointed in them tbqh and if they wanna dish it out they can take it too]
(brillant tag commentary via princessnijireiki)
Incidentally, the link at the OP is dead. This is because the forum-owner didn’t want movie discussion on their animation board. I found the full text of it on another site, and am archiving it here for posterity:
Production wrapped 5 years ago so I don’t think Paramount is going to care. They know it bombed.
What it came down to was M Night really was the only one who knew the show and what he was doing (the first draft of the screenplay? gorgeous. hence Bryke giving him the okay). The producers, who are actually in charge of at least 80% of production including casting…. not so much. They clearly never bothered to watch the show, nor had the ghostwriter who did the final screenplay.
Nicola was hired because she’s the daughter of someone one of the producers owed a favor to as Hollywood loves its nepotism. (Her audition tape was subpar at best). In having to cast her they had to cast a guy who could pass as her brother - hence Jackson. His audition was actually pretty good. He’s a funny guy and had clearly seen the show. Too bad the producers felt the movie didn’t have time for intentional humor and cut all that out of the script. Noah was the only one who honestly openly auditioned and was chosen based on talent. He just needed extra help acting because with a lot of it being green screened he was talking to air a lot of the time. Experienced adults have a hard time doing that let alone a kid.
If you recall they initially signed on Jesse McCartney as Zuko. Why? Because otherwise the lead actor roster would be “starring: two unknown kids you never heard of and that guy who played a minor character in Twilight!”. And then someone with a brain realized “wait a minute this show is kind of anime-esque and we’re hiring a bunch of white kids. Um.”. So what did they do? Because they couldn’t can Nicola without someone being really ticked, Jesse willingly bowed out and went with another project offered at the time. Even still, they still needed a big name to draw people in but it couldn’t be another white kid. Dev Patel just gave an Oscar-winning performance and was willing to sign on. And in getting him they had to make the rest of the Fire Nation match. Which is why it turned into heroic white kids VS evil brown people (which was intentionally unintentional).
And then it was horribly budgeted. The opening at the SWT all nice and pretty in Greenland? Cost big bucks. And then they realized with a story about people manipulating elements that couldn’t be believably done with in camera practical effects. So they had to rebudget and gave most of the money to ILM for post production. You go from the beautiful SWT to everything looking dingy because everything else was shot in Pennsylvania. The Fire Nation Royal Palace? An old high school in Philadelphia. Parts of the Earth Kingdom (including Kyoshi Island which got cut)? Reading, PA. And everything that was the NWT…. some sets built in front of giant green screens in an old emptied aircraft hangar in the outskirts of Philadelphia. Yeah.
And ILM was rushed despite most of the movie’s look being left up to them. And you had novice directors hired by producers to oversee that process. That’s how come the pebble dance happened. Sadly at that point M Night was just tired of arguing with the overheads, gave up, and collected his paycheck. If you look at the movie’s premiere and red carpet footage you can tell his excitement and happiness is fake. Bryke had little say in the film despite being listed as executive producers. That title was a fancy way of saying that they created the show it was based on and they’re still alive so they need some kind of nice credit. The actual producers didn’t know what they were dealing with and were only interested in a quick buck. Bryke and M Night gave up on the film around the same time for same reasons. The other people working on the film were a pain to deal with and Nickelodeon themselves only wanted the final product as quickly as possible and the money it would presumably make them.
At least they hired good caterers. The food was great on that set.
As for how plausible this all is? Well, scripts get ghost-rewritten all the time, and so-called showrunners lose creative control. It happened to Joss Whedon on the Buffy movie, and would have happened to him again on the X-Men movie if he hadn’t pulled his name from it, and I find it hard to believe that it could happen to Whedon but not to Shyamalan.
Unfortunately, when hack producers are determined to run a project into the ground like that, your only option to save yourself is to walk, or refuse to be credited. I don’t know what he’d signed or what the damage would have been to his career, but it looks to the layman like he just rode it out to collect his money—Bryke too, though the difference is that Bryke’s reputation has only benefited from it, though between the writing on Korra and info about the original series bible on Avatar, we can see now they rely on the same hackneyed tropes. (Like the orignal plan to make Iroh evil, totally the “evil mentor” storyline they pulled with Unalaq; the whole love triangle they planned with Toph/Katara/Aang when Toph was still a man, becoming all the love triangles people love to hate in Korra.) Basically they came out of it shining and looking like anti-racist heroes for their shiny new WoC protagonist, while Shyamalan came out of it looking like a racist despite being a PoC. There was more publicity and support for Korra than ever, and Shyamalan’s career was ruined. Feels kinda odd, right?
As to how much of the racism that eventually went into that project Shyamalan was aware of, and how much of the “colorblind” BS he said to defend the casting after the fact he actually believed in…I’m in way out of my depth here, I’ll leave that analysis to someone who has some life experience dealing with the business end of racism. I could really see that being persuasively argued different ways. But he still got scapegoated, he definitely wasn’t in it alone, that stuff didn’t happen in a vacuum, and I remember all the gross stuff like mocking his name.