Avatar going as Airbender for 2010 film

Avatar: The Last Airbender was slated to become a live-action film, and speculation about the project has been running rampant. I know it’s Hollywood’s way to give us a smidgen of information and then leave us to stew for… well… sometimes years on end, but back then all we knew was that M. Night Shyamalan would be directing, and also that James Cameron had a similarly-named project in the works.

This week we finally got the answers to a few of those burning questions about the much-anticipated cinema event. The news is that we’ll have to keep waiting:

Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies will release M. Night Shyamalan’s live-action bigscreen adaptation of the popular animated TV series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” on July 2, 2010.

I’m all for being forewarned, and all, but seriously? This movie was announced three and a half years before it would come to fruition. That’s… craziness. In three and a half years I’ll have a teenager. In three and a half years the Avatar saga might be complete. In three and a half years the cartoon might not even be on the air anymore. (Hey, I hope it will be, but you never do know with these things.) That just seems like… a long time.

As for the name issue, well, that’s been resolved as well:

Studio has dropped “Avatar” from the title of the action-adventure so as to avoid confusion with James Cameron’s 3-D epic “Avatar,” which 20th Century Fox opens Dec. 18, 2009.

To me, this was the best possible news. I actually think The Last Airbender is a great title, and more evocative of the story than the inclusion of the term “Avatar.” Even without Cameron’s project, I just think that word has a lot of pre-conceived ideas attached to it for those who don’t know the storyline.

Now I guess I’ll go mark my calendar for July of 2010, but I may need a few things to keep me busy in the meantime….

Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus get two thumbs up

Kids’ Choice Awards on Nickelodeon, and they were notable because Hannah Montana‘s Miley Cyrus walked away with both favorite actress in a TV show and favorite female singer.

Or maybe it was because Harrison Ford got slimed. Personally, I think that was more interesting news, but then again, I’ve had a crush on Indiana Jones longer than Miley Cyrus has been alive….

(I cannot believe I just admitted that. Hi, I’m the Toy Box Mommy, and I am extremely old!)

Some were surprised that Cyrus didn’t take three awards, but Drake & Josh managed to edge out Hannah Montana for favorite show. Hey, she got two awards and she has two hands, so unless she was planning on juggling them, I think it worked out okay. (Also, judging by all of the products in the Hannah Montana Store here, I don’t really think she’s hurting for popularity. Just sayin’.)

My other favorite winner, of course, was the dubbing of Avatar: The Last Airbender as Favorite Cartoon. You know I love Avatar; where else can you get such an involved story embedded in fabulous animation along with humor and entertainment that works for almost all ages? Aside from the little orange Nickelodeon blimp statue thingie they get, I’m pleased that Avatar was recognized for the awesome show that it is. (But I am not going to say that too loudly, because there is a long history of cartoons I love being canceled. Let’s pretend I’m whispering.)

Congratulations to all of the winners, of course, and I would like to respectfully suggest that we work the sliming of guests into the next Academy Awards show, as well. It certainly livened things up a bit.

Avatar movie Day of Black Sun just weeks away

Day of the Black Sun.

The epic third season of the series from creators Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko continues as Aang and his rag-tag crew launch their massive attack on the Fire Nation during the solar eclipse. This special television event features the guest voices of Avatar fan and tennis pro Serena Williams as Ming (Uncle Iroh’s guard) and WWE wrestler Mick Foley as The Boulder.

In “Day of Black Sun,” Aang’s army is unlike any force seen before, with fleets of Waterbenders and a battalion of Earthbenders (including The Boulder, one of the best-known fighters) working together to pull off one of the most bizarre and ingenious invasion plans ever imagined. With Sokka, Katara and Toph at his side, Aang is determined to fulfill his destiny as the Avatar. He and the gang hunt down the evil Fire Lord for the ultimate showdown while the solar eclipse temporarily hinders the Fire Nation’s powers. But the question remains; is the Fire Lord ready for Aang?

Ooooooh. And if that doesn’t get your heart pumping, just a little, check out this:

You know, every time I think that Avatar just cannot possibly sustain the suspense and energy its had for much longer, they come up with something else that tops whatever they’ve done so far. I don’t know how they do it.

Stay tuned for Nickelodeon’s dedicated website to contain special features, too. It looks like it’ll be launching this coming Monday. Just in case you need something to do while you wait.

Other than peeling potatoes or eating pie, that is.

If you missed the Avatar premiere, don’t despair

over at TurboNick. (This is the part where we all give a cheer for Nickelodeon for putting the episode online, because that was a very cool thing to do.) And you will want to watch the episode before reading any of the online buzz about it, because I’ve been unable to find any discussion that doesn’t contain a whole lot of spoilers.

Over at ToonZone, reviewer Ed Liu says the season is off to a rough start:

At best, a new viewer attempting to enter the Avatar world with this episode will be slightly lost. Even the fans who have been rabidly anticipating the new season since the surprising events that ended the last one will feel a mixture of excitement and disappointment with the premiere. The excitement comes from the prospect of seeing the story to its end and the tantalizing hints at what might be coming next, but the disappointment will be because this episode feels like an extended setup for the rest of the season. It’s a half-hour that goes by all too quickly and with too little movement to be truly satisfying on its own merits.

(C’mon, Ed, tell us what you really think.)

This assessment feels like a bit of a letdown if you read last week’s USA Today article about how Avatar is Nickelodeon’s next big thing:

“This is a franchise on the rise,” says Scott Klein, senior global brand manager. “We’d love to be putting out games all the way through the feature film release.”

Now, the network is developing branded rides at Paramount and Universal theme parks and a roller coaster ride at Minneapolis’ Mall of America, which will have the first Nickelodeon theme park next year.

“The movies will kick the business into high gear,” Zarghami says. “That will send people back to the network for more in the animated series. The movies will be released on home video and go into another movie. And hopefully, when I’m replaced 10 years from now, somebody will be making Avatar 10.”

I believe that, too. Even if only because my son’s only reaction to last week’s premiere episode was a satisfied sigh and “When’s the next one on?”

Third season of Avatar announced

Avatar‘s third season is just two weeks away:

The Avatar finally awakens after his life-threatening battle at Ba Sing Se to find that he has a full head of hair and a burning desire to finally defeat the Firelord. The epic third season of Nickelodeon’s hit series from creator’s Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, Avatar: The Last Airbender, will premiere Friday, September 21 at 8:30 p.m. (ET/PT). In support of this premiere, Nicktoons Networks will air mini marathons of Avatar seasons one and two from Monday, September 17 at 2:00 p.m. (ET) through Thursday, September 20. New episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender will continue to premiere with new episodes in its regular timeslot on Fridays at 8:30 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon.

Oh, thank goodness. I need that room on the DVR for the new season of Grey’s Anatomy. Er, I mean, it’s exciting that we’re finally going to get to see what comes next. Although… a full head of hair? Check out that picture—I sort of miss him being bald.

In the season three premiere of Avatar, “The Awakening,” Aang wakes up to find himself aboard a captured Fire Nation ship after sustaining serious injuries at the end of season two. Katara, Sokka, and their father are with him and they recount the events that led the four to the ship and how they plan to attack the Fire Nation. Aang struggles to fight his own instincts to face the Firelord before he is ready, but ultimately accepts that he needs time to heal and regain his strength. Meanwhile, Zuko is dealing with his own issues as he journeys home for first time in three years, fearing his father will reject him once again.

In all seriousness, I may be a little more pumped about this season than I’m willing to admit in adult company. I love the Zuko storyline; it’s sort of like a little soap opera inside the overall Avatar story. I may have managed to wean myself off the show for the summer, but the new season is going to rein me right back in again. Much to my son’s delight.

You may have noticed that the Avatar Store at Ty’s Toy Box has had a face-lift, too. Just in case you need to pick up a little something-something to celebrate the new season. You’re welcome.