Twi-Night Sneakpeek then film bow

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It was a big day for M. Night Shyamalan.

The filmmaker held an early Tuesday presentation of his 2010 Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon Movies theatrical franchise "The Last Airbender" and later attended the New York premiere of his Fox thriller "The Happening."

Before a crowd of eager marketers at New York's Licensing International Expo 2008, Shyamalan unveiled a preview of his three-feature adaptation of Nickelodeon's animated sci-fi martial arts series "Avatar: The Last Airbender" The first film is set for release July 2, 2010.

Shyamalan has storyboarded the entire live-action film twice, and his video presentation showed a series of hand-drawn landscapes mixed with stock action footage, including Asian warriors on horseback. A large part of the reported $250 million projected budget of the three-film series will be spent on CGI special effects.

Shyamalan estimates the first "Airbender" will be about two hours. He's close to casting a set of young actors who will age with the story line, but said he's only committed to direct the first film. (partialdiff)
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