I think I've seen every M. Night Shymalan film in the theater with the exception of The Happening. After it's opening weekend, the film audience for The Happening almost disappeared immediatly due to the fact that this is was of the least satisfying films Shymalan has ever made.
And while films like Lady in the Water and The Happening have recently been generally perceived as big disappointments, the curiousity can't keep everyone at bay.
While M. Night Shymalan plays with different types of paranormal themes, his films end up having a certain feel that is unique, but can also make his very unique films seem unoriginal.
I have long felt like M. Night Shyamalan should stop writing his own original screenplays for awhile, despite his Oscar nomination for writing The Sixth Sense. It's hard to be deeply creative, stylisticly and in creating rich stories and characters, and as a result I think the quality of films branded with M. Night's name have been weakened.
While I could think of a variety of potential stories I'd like to see M. Night Shyamalan adapt (like The Life of Pi by Yann Martel), I am proud, yes, that's right, proud of Shyamalan's attempt to veer away from the original modern paranormal fable and instead do something different. Next year, we will certainly all hear about the great success (or perhaps the failure) of The Last Airbender.
The Last Airbender
Avatar: The Last Airbender is the popular award winning animated television show about a mystical Asian world with four kingdoms represented by Eart, Wind, Air, and Fire. In this story the Fire Nation is waging war against the other nations, and the last hope is Aang the last known survivor of the peaceful Airbenders.
While a martial artsy mystical film with a full cast of characters doesn't quite line up with M.
Night Shyamalan's previous films, I commend him for working with a new type of genre and adapting from previous source material. I feel like not only does this film have great potential to draw from an audience that might have passed on previous films by this director.
Similarly, I think that Shyamalan's style has the potential to spring some creativity in a martial arts action film, that could create some lasting stylistic elements (I think of what the Wachowski brothers did with the Matrix, and how they really brought some new looks and feel to film).
As a person who even found redeeming qualities of Lady in the Water, I consider myself a moderate Shyamalan fan, and am interested to see how The Last Airbender is received, and really hope it's great. Additionally, this films elemental nature will of course have a water element, which I am convinced is Shymalan's deepest fear/fascination.
I have a feeling that the graph above will have a peak much higher than recent films, and that it will capture a whole new audience for the director and potentially lead the director down a new path, particularly if it is made into a trilogy with Shyamalan involved with each of the projects.