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The Last Airbender


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#41 Christian

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 02:44 PM

Is the studio really anticipating strong grosses for this film? Opening it on the July 4th weekend certainly shows confidence, but I wonder how the film tested during its pre-release screenings.

#42 morgan1098

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 03:02 PM

Ha! I thought this quote from the comment field in the story linked above was funny:

Fiscal Bomb possibly. Failure on multiple levels, definitely. H’wood should be able to collectively “fire” individuals. You make “The Village,” you get a warning. Follow it up with “The Happening,” you’re on probation. Wrap it up with “Last Airbender,” boom. Fired.



#43 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 03:30 PM

Christian wrote:
: Is the studio really anticipating strong grosses for this film?

I've heard that they are, yeah. Which surprises me, but then, Twilight seemed to come out of nowhere to me, too, when it opened to such big numbers two years ago.

Trivia note: BOTH of the movies opening this weekend feature Jackson Rathbone in a significant supporting role. In The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, he's the member of the Cullen family who trains the rest of the family in how to fight "newborn" vampires. And in The Last Airbender, he's one of the two people who discover the "avatar" buried in the ice.

#44 Persona

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 03:45 PM

Whatever else we might say about The Last Airbender, at least it isn't a massive ego trip like that other movie was.

I don't know. If it makes a jillion billion dollars over the fourth of July weekend, once again M. Night walks away and says to himself either, "Critics don't know what they're talking about, my films rule the earth," or, "Wow, these movie-goers really are as stupid as I originally thought."

I still haven't seen The Happening, and my parents -- you know how I've playfully mocked their movie-going experiences here before -- are actually paying attention to the critics when it comes to Shyamalan, that's how much they disliked Lady in the Water and outright hated The Happening. They have no plans to see this. For once, I'm quite proud of them.

Regarding everyone else, I guess we'll know pretty soon. But I have a big feeling Shyamalan beats out all the critics this weekend. Which makes the world deserving of the bad films it gets.

Edited by Persona, 01 July 2010 - 03:46 PM.


#45 Christian

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 04:17 PM

Surrounding yourself with talented people is easy, when you've still got a reputation for talent. But the script is the glue that holds everything together, and the script that Shyamalan wrote in that case was awful.


that's how much they disliked Lady in the Water


A reminder that Cahiers du Cinema chose Lady in the Water as one of the 10 best films of 2006, ranking it ahead of The New World, and that David Bordwell liked Lady as well:

I thought the film, which definitely had its problems, significantly better than most American critics did, so I take a little satisfaction in the fact that Lady in the Water appeared on Cahiers du cinéma’s list of the ten best films of 2006.

That is all. Now back to the piece of crap that is The Last Airbender.

Edited by Christian, 01 July 2010 - 04:17 PM.


#46 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 04:51 PM

<SteveTaylor> So they love Jerry Lewis in France. Does that make him funny? </SteveTaylor>

:)

BTW, I can't help wondering if Jerry Bruckheimer is watching how this film does. He's got nothing to do with it, AFAIK, but there was a trailer for The Sorcerer's Apprentice before the screening of this film, and it occurred to me that both films feature people who do battle by holding their hands in funny poses and making balls of gas or fire or water or whatever swirl about them. It's a distinct change from all the swordfights and whatnot that have dominated fantasy films in recent years, or so it seems to me.

#47 Persona

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 04:56 PM

<SteveTaylor> So they love Jerry Lewis in France. Does that make him funny? </SteveTaylor>

:)

The next line could also apply to Shyamalan:

"It's too late for apologies when trust has been betrayed..."

#48 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 04:59 PM

Persona wrote:
: The next line could also apply to Shyamalan:
: "It's too late for apologies when trust has been betrayed..."

:lol:

#49 Christian

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 07:47 PM

Bordwell lives in France? :)

Seriously, though, what do you say about reputable critics who liked the film, even admitting that it has problems? How can it be so clearly heinous and disreputable yet respectable, even liked, by people of Bordwell's caliber? I realize no one is above the occasional boner, but I think their admiration of the film might give critics pause. Instead, whenever I've mentioned the admiration, it's been greeted with scoffing or jokes, as if such opinions are fundamentally unserious.

Edited by Christian, 01 July 2010 - 07:50 PM.


#50 Persona

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 07:58 PM

Still, I don't really want to argue over Lady.

Heh, Heh, Heh.

#51 Tyler

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 08:15 PM

I'm finally starting to get into the Airbender animated series. The "Winter Solstice" two-parter brought something more to the storytelling than the episodic "how will we save this village?" structure of the first several episodes, which were quite well done for that they were, but I'd been hoping for more.

The comments about the series on this thread were a big reason I stuck with it, so thanks.

#52 opus

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 01:35 AM

I thought the cartoon did a fine job of balancing the one-off episodes with multi-part episodes. And even the one-off episodes contribute to the whole, with later episodes often revisiting people, places, and character development from earlier episodes. (This is especially true in the 2nd and 3rd seasons, as e2c says.)

Edited by opus, 02 July 2010 - 01:38 AM.


#53 Tyler

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 07:50 AM

It's not quite out of the single digits at Rotten Tomatoes.

#54 Andrew

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 08:29 AM

This thread got me and my kids into the animated series, too, for which I'm very grateful - we're 4/5th's of the way through Season 1, and enjoying it greatly.

I've loved Shyamalan's films, up to and including 'Lady in the Water' (I haven't been able to bring myself to watch 'The Happening'). The childlike, magical-thinking quality of his films fascinates me, as do his visual style and his psychological insights into trauma and its aftereffects (that latter part is inevitable for me, I guess :) ), so it saddens me greatly to read about his trashing of 'Airbender.'

#55 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 10:47 AM

Christian wrote:
: Is the studio really anticipating strong grosses for this film?

I've heard that they are, yeah. Which surprises me, but then, Twilight seemed to come out of nowhere to me, too, when it opened to such big numbers two years ago.

FWIW, this post from last night is no longer up at Deadline.com for some reason, but the bit that's preserved in my news feed declares:

THURSDAY PM: Sources tell me that Paramount's The Last Airbender opened to $16+M today from 3,169 theaters, including the $3 million from its midnight shows. Helped by higher 3D ticket prices, the pic based on the Nickelodeon animated TV series should be on its way to $60M for the 5-day July Fourth Holiday and a shot at 2nd place.

Sixty million in its first weekend? If that holds true, then The Last Airbender would almost automatically be Shyamalan's best-grossing film since The Village (which came out six long years ago). So reports of his career's death might be exaggerated. (Unless we want to postulate that it has entered some sort of "undead" zombie-like phase -- soulless but still on the move.)

Christian wrote:
: Bordwell lives in France? :)

No, but he reads French magazines. ;)

#56 Christian

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 11:51 AM

$60 MILLION?? For this movie?

Even if it tails off badly in the coming weeks, I'm thinking an opening this strong indicates that those sequels will probably happen after all.

Shyamalan was quoted yesterday in the "Vulture" column saying that he doesn't pay attention to reviews and had been oblivious to the howls of outrage among critics who'd seen his latest film. He said, just as he did in the book about the making of Lady in the Water, that he has visions in his head and tries to put them on screen -- as if that's all that anyone should expect, regardless of whether those images hang together when assembled into a story, or are worth looking at on their own.

The obliviousness got me thinking about the purpose of reviews. My initial reaction was to think Shyamalan even more arrogant than I did before I'd read the interview, but I don't know why I should assume that film reviews would be intended for the filmmakers, rather than for audiences. Maybe I'm the hubristic one.

#57 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 12:52 PM

Christian wrote:
: $60 MILLION?? For this movie?

And that's just the DOMESTIC box-office forecast for the weekend.

: Even if it tails off badly in the coming weeks, I'm thinking an opening this strong indicates that those sequels will probably happen after all.

Especially if the film does as well overseas as some people are expecting it to.

: The obliviousness got me thinking about the purpose of reviews. My initial reaction was to think Shyamalan even more arrogant than I did before I'd read the interview, but I don't know why I should assume that film reviews would be intended for the filmmakers, rather than for audiences. Maybe I'm the hubristic one.

On a semi-related note, I finally got around to cracking open my copy of Mark Pinsky's The Gospel according to Disney the other day, and in the introductory chapter on "Methodology", he says:

Some reviewers of The Gospel according to The Simpsons complained that there was not enough of my own analysis and interpretation in that work, and too much paraphrasing from the show's episodes, and material from academics, ministers, and theologians. These critics may be right. So in this book I have tried to remedy that, especially in the heart of the work, the appraisals of the individual animated features.

That caught my eye, because my own review of that book concluded with:

The Gospel According to the Simpsons sometimes reads more like a collection of facts and episode synopses than an engagement with ideas -- like a journalist, Pinsky lets his sources do the interpreting -- but it's a must-read for anyone who wants to keep tabs on the relationship between faith and popular culture.

So, was Pinsky thinking of me? Possibly -- mine is one of six reviews of that book that he links to from his website, and the second half of my sentence was included in the list of review snippets in subsequent editions of the book. But I've never spoken to Pinsky, so I have no idea which particular critics he's thinking of. I'd be curious to know who the others might be. (And FWIW, I wouldn't say that I myself was "complaining" about this aspect of his book; it just stood out to me because I was reviewing his book in tandem with The Simpsons and Philosophy, where every chapter is very much a personal engagement of ideas based on the show.)

Anyway. I mention that simply to say that sometimes authors and artists DO take "advice" from reviews, and sometimes they DO allow those reviews to influence their subsequent works in presumably positive ways.

#58 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 06:35 PM

Kyle Smith: "It reminded me of mid-80s fantasy messes like 'Krull.'" That's funny. I've never seen Krull, but I, personally, kept thinking of The NeverEnding Story -- a movie I enjoyed well enough at the time, but must say I find a wee bit difficult to sit through as an adult.

#59 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 11:24 AM

Steel yourself, Christian. Based on how the film did yesterday, some people are now estimating The Last Airbender could make as much as $70 million in its first weekend (if we count Monday as part of the weekend, I think).

#60 Christian

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 12:10 PM

Steel yourself, Christian. Based on how the film did yesterday, some people are now estimating The Last Airbender could make as much as $70 million in its first weekend (if we count Monday as part of the weekend, I think).

This is a film that throws out of whack all of the things I've learned about box-office analysis, even at a novice level, over many, many years. I had just assumed word of mouth would be terrible among those who saw the film, leading to a fast fade, but maybe, just maybe, people actually like the movie and are telling people to see it. I never did see what the "Cinemascore" was among audiences on Airbender.