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AFTER SHYAMALAN: How Will 'After Earths' Success or Failure Affect The ATLA Franchise?

Hello again everyone. Raiden here, with a slightly concerned blog post. I'm doing this to excorcize my feelings about a recent development that the majority of the fanbase seems to be overlooking

As I am sure a good amount of you are aware (at least those of us that are/were fans of M Night Shaymalan) M. Night Shyamalans next film, the Will and Jaden Smith Sci-Fi action adventure vehicle, AFTER EARTH is likely going to be a success. Given the Star Power of Jaden and Will it is probably at least going make back its budget. Which makes me wonder, what will M. Night rebounding from his failure mean for the Airbender Franchise?

For those of you who have been under a rock for the past three years, (or in denial of its existance)  While M. Night Shyamalan is the director of several decent films (Signs, Unbreakable, The Sixth Sense) he is also the director of the horrid, sorry excuse of a live action Adaptation called "The Last Airbender". Which was nigh-universally panned by Fans of the show, Movie Critics, Casual moviegoers who had never seen the show etc. and liked by a small but devoted minority of fans.

The Film suffered from many issues, from b-grade CGI, to terrible wooden acting on part of the majority of the Child Actors, to accusations of Racist casting, cultural insensitivity and sexist characterization, to a horribly rushed pacing and short runtime, to an overall dark and moody tone which left many fans (of the humorous tone in the original series) feeling cold. However despite all these issues, the film still made a relatively good amount of money at the box office. True, not Avengers, or Dark Knight Rises level, but it did make money, especially considering the studio executives expected it to be a complete flop.

Not to say that this was necessarily a good thing, Shyamalan planned to direct three Airbender films altogether, but he apparently decided to hold off of directing a sequel, even though given the relatively decent financial return of Airbender he could. Why? Simple, he did with 'the Last Airbender' what no filmmaker should EVER do, he emotionally alienated his audience. Given the critical slamming and box office failures of his last few films (Lady In The Water, The Happening, the Village, and The Last Airbender) it is doubtful he would want his next film to be a sequel to one of his 'weaker' ones, lest it completely flop. Shymalans reputation and Credibility as a filmmaker is in the toilet, and he knows it.

Which begs the question, is Shyamalan really attempting to redeem himself, and attempting to move on from his failures (and the Airbender Franchise), by actually making a good film? Or is he attempting to ride on the bankability of two great actors in order to justify his NEXT project? In short, the Last Airbender 2? Which technically, he could still make? Is he attempting to reel us in with a good film only to hit us later with another terrible one?

As noted in this blog, by user Hasdi Bravo, his next project could very well be 'The Last Airbender 2'

and as noted in a recent Tweet by Shyamalan himself.

Scared? nervous? excited? HUMBLED? I'm not going to sound the Alarm just yet, but it does sound awful suspicious. If his next project is TLA2, then the Airbender Franchise is in real trouble.

I mean, film adaptations do affect newcomers impression of the original product they are based upon, especially if they are big ongoing franchises like ATLA/LOK and/or The Marvel And DC Superhero universes. In some cases, certain aspects of the ongoing franchise are changed to be more in line with the Film adaptation. A good example would be Marvel altering the design of Spider-Man's Suit in the comics to fall more in line with the designs in the Live action films in order to promote said films and bring in new readers (this can have both very good and very bad results). If a TLA2 does happen will something similar affect the ATLA/LOK franchise, but in a completely negative way?

If it does come to be, how will it affect the universe of Legend of Korra? I mean. . . one of the biggest issues many people on this wiki have with Legend of Korra is that the original "Medieval Asia" influence has been pretty diluted due to the inclusion of an Industrial Revolution and the "American 1920-30's" setting of Republic City (I personally do not have an issue with it though). If Shymalan creates a TLA2, will the studio interfere with Bryke, forcing them to alter the franchise to dilute the Asian influence further to match Shyamalans version, simply to promote Shymalan's film? I certainly hope not.

Furthermore, sequels to GOOD films are almost never up to par with the original, what does that say about a sequel to a BAD film? Is Shymalan going to take advantage of the credibility After Earth will give him just to justify producing another Airbender film? If he does what else will he alter about the airbender verse? If the same Non-Asian/Inuit actors that played characters that were intended to be Inuit and East Asian (in the original product) come back to reprise their roles, the wounds inflicted upon the fanbase by the first film will likely be reoponed. Not to mention all the other little details I mentioned earlier coming to light.

The sequel film will likely suffer from the same things the first film suffered from, not to mention several other pervasive rumors of Shymalan changing details in both the story of Book 2 and the characters to fit HIS vision for the ATLA universe. One of said rumors was that he was planning to get either Willow Smith or a Young "Androgynous Looking" Male Asian Actor to play Toph, and/or Dante Basco to play Long Feng. If these rumors are true, and if the film does get made, lots of  Airbender fans will more than likely protest this. Both Willow Smith and Dante deserve better.


Anyway, after a bit of contemplation and research, I've nailed down the THREE Likely things that will happen in relation to the Airbender franchise once Shymalans next film is released:


#1 Shyamalans 'After Earth' Flops:

Given Shymalans Track Record, it is quite possible this could happen. I am perfectly confident Will and Jadens careers can survive a flop. Shymalan on the other hand? Not likely. If AE does flop then hope For a Last Airbender 2 is pretty much up in smoke with what is left of Shymalans reputation.  We can then all breathe a sigh of relief, knowing the franchise is saved from his "Vision" of the Airbender verse. Having said all that, there is a reason to be concerned if AE flops. and not just in relation to a Last Airbender sequel. AE is one of the ONLY summer blockbusters this year to feature Minority Actors in Strong, Lead, Non Stereotypical roles. If AE flops, Hollywood might think audiences are not receptive to minority actors in lead roles, and thus, (much like the Last Airbender's "Asian-Inspired cast" was white washed) it is likely many future productions will reenforce and excuse their racially biased casting of white actors for roles written with minorities in mind with the evidence of shoddy box office results. I don't want to support Shymalan, but at the same time, I also want to support minority actors in lead roles, so that no other franchise has to suffer a "Shymalan Adaptation". Should we support what could possibly be a bad film, just because it has a big name minority actor in it like Will Smith? Having said that, I am going to withhold my judgement on whether or not AE is a good or bad film until AFTER it comes out.


#2 Shyamalans After Earth Is A BIG success, And Shymalan Moves On:

If the more likely alternative does happen, if AE is a success. Then we will have a bit of reason to be concerned. But personally, I think if this does happen Shymalan will take advantage of this sudden turn of fortune and focus on another project. Probably a sequel to 'After Earth', which if he plays his cards right could be the next "Alien" franchise. I was a fan of some of his movies before the "Shymalan Adaptation", so I personally hope he does this. If he wants to bring back audiences, he definitely should do this.


#3  Shyamalans After Earth is A BIG success, and He Uses The Boost To His Reputation To Make  A Last Airbender Sequel.

If this happens. I will have lost ALL faith in Shymalan. I will not be going to see another "Shyamalan Adaptation" and if you genuinely love ATLA and/or LOK, you shouldn't either. The fanbase will likely turn on him like a rabid dog, protest will mount outside of the film premiere, fans will likely send a mountain of petitions and protest E-mail to both Nickelodeon and Shyamalans website, the sequel film will likely flop, and we will have to likely endure a repeat of the controversy surrounding the first film (the casting, the cultural insensitivity, the sexist characterization of female characters, the racist stereotypes etc.) and it is doubtful ANYONE will want to endure a repeat of that. either way it will impact the franchise, likely in a negative way. In a worst case Scenario, Nickelodeon may even pull the plug on the ATLA/LOK franchise altogether, live action and Animated alike, just so they don't have to deal with the controversy. Okay, admittedly that last one is a bit of a stretch. But I am sure the majority of the people reading this can undertand where I am coming from. Studio executives only see one thing, MONEY, not ratings, not critical acclaim, MONEY, and if the Airbender franchise doesn't keep getting viewers, or box office dollars then the studio sees no other optin but to cancel it. since they are not getting money.

In conclusion. Out of love for the Airbender Franchise, and me constantly being aggravated by certain people on this wiki for disliking said "Shyamalan Adaptation". I personally am not going to support "After Earth". I will only go see it in the theater if it is a major success, and by that I mean OSCAR worthy. I will not hold it against any of you on this wiki if you go see it, and I hope it is at least worth the price of admission (for the sake of minority actors in Hollywood).

But for me, personally, I'm disappointed with Shyamalan, I'm tired of his twists at the ending that all but ruin the rest of the film, I'm tired of the overall sense of darkness and moodiness in his films, and I'm especially tired of his consistent 'holier than thou' attitude when it comes to criticism (constructive and Otherwise) of his style of directing. I don't want to be disappointed by one of his films again. If that means skipping out on a film with one of my favorite actors in it, so be it. I'm sick and Tired of M. Night Shymalans films, and the fact that I'm an ATLA fan, and he destroyed any hope of there ever being a decent live action ATLA adaptation only rubs salt in my wounds.

But hey, if 'AFTER EARTH' turns out to be a good movie, by all means go see it. I sure as heck am not going to stop you. But as for me? I gave up on Shymalan a long time ago. If AE is a big success maybe, maybe, I'll go see it. But as of right this moment, to until the reviews are in, and the critics and fans have spoken, I am not going to go see it.

So what do you think fellow ATLA/LOK fans? Are you going to see "AFTER EARTH"? If its a good film do you want to see Shyamalan return to the ATLA franchise or move on? What is your opinion on the Live action Airbender film? Would you like to see a sequel to it, a reboot, or neither? What is you opinion on Shyamalans career in general? Comment below. As always, my blogs and message walls are open to all, Bender and Equalist alike.

Raiden out.

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