The High Cost of The Last Airbender
07.01.10 by Ryan
The Last Airbender opens today and, so far, hasn't received much love from the critics or audiences, alike. This is unfortunate for Paramount Pictures, which spent $150 million on the movie's production, and, according to The LA Times, another $130 million on marketing the movie. Both Paramount and director M. Night Shyamalan were hoping to kick start a franchise. Right now, that isn't looking so good. A separate LA Times report projects that Airbender will make only an estimated $50 million over the July 4th holiday weekend, which if you add up the money spent and subtract the profits ... um, well, the over $1 billion in profits Paramount has already made this year is going to take a hit.
Another factor in Airbender's "cost" is Shyamalan's reputation. The director was in search of a hit after the disappointments of The Happening and Lady in the Water. Shyamalan told SuperHeroHype that he is bracing himself should Airbender not become a franchise.
Yeah, my hope is that very soon someone will say to me, "You can make the next movie." That's my first goal, and I'm emotionally preparing myself if that's not the case. You've gotta be ready as an artist that your dream may not happen, but if it does, and I hope it will and everyone thinks it will, I hope so, that would be awesome. Then I could think about taking it to another level, plus because now I feel comfortable and versed with all of this and ... I have the tools ready to play this position now. Less learning on the job and perhaps now striving for a new level kinda thing, so I would love that opportunity. That would be great.
Shyamalan may yet get his chance to continue with Airbender. Based on the Nickelodeon animated TV series, Airbender may bring in the kids this weekend, and with the added cost of 3-D, may overcome the early criticism. Already, Deadline reports that Airbender opened to $3 million on Thursday midnight screenings alone, the highest for a non-sequel this year, and could make its money back internationally.