OK, let me put it simply:
- The Last Airbender film sounds like a dismal mess.
- I haven't seen it, so my commentary is based more on the reactions I've seen and what I think they mean.
- Whenever I do see it, I somehow doubt even if I enjoy it, it'll change much of #2.
So, let us ask, progeek and profan-wise, what the incredibly bad reviews and dismal reception for the Last Airbender film mean for future media endeavors. This is a big enough flop, that I think it bears analysis.
So let's break this down into things I'm sure about and think are possible, and are unsure about.
M. Night Shamalyan's career is at rock bottom: This is a huge flop, an adaption of a well-loved series, and it's done awful. It's been a waste of money. His geek cred is shot.
3D done after is in question, as is 3D itself: Between this and "Clash of the Titans" it's pretty apparent post-production 3D doesn't work very well. This will likely put a big kibosh on post-production 3D, and will be a blow to 3D itself. I expect 3D will still be popular, but it's going to slow a bit. If you work in film, remember this.
This Isn't a Deathblow to Future Avatar Projects: The film has done so poorly, the fandom is dedicated, and much of the complaints of the film are how it's nothing like the series. The film in short is an outlier in the "Avatar" multimedia world. There won't be any more live films for . . . well, decades . . . but I can see other things being done in the setting.
The Avatar Fans Aren't Going Away: Avatar fandom is intense – and the show is worthy of respect (indeed, it does great worldbuilding). The film isn't killing their interest at all – in fact it seems to rekindle it. I'd say Avatar fandom is probably worth studying to see what kind of fandom you'd want for media you produce.
A blow to animated adaptions: I wondered if this could slow enthusiasm for animated-to-live adaptions. Probably not, but I can see it being treated as evidence that "it's hard to do without screwing it up." Keep that in mind if you work in film.
Forget 'Racebending': The controversy over the ethnicity of cast members will probably be forgotten in the wake that the film was bad. I figure it will probably go away – but I'm not sure.
Career Collapse: I think, but am not sure, this film will be a blow to some of the cast – they were not well received in general. There's a few big names in there, who will do fine, but some of the kids . . . not so much.
Sokka Horror Picture Show: It's possible this film will be considered so bad that it will be a cult hit among Avatar fans for total mockery. This could actually help the "Avatar" franchise because it isolates the film culturally.
The Recovery: With a film this bad, I can see efforts to promote non-film material like the show, books, and future projects. Might as well use the brand. I could see, for instance, an Avatar MMO (different than the current one).
So my theories. Any from you?
– Steven Savage