Considering that seemingly no one likes M. Night Shyamalan these days, the auteur has had a pretty decent year overall. The Last Airbender was slaughtered by critics, but did solid business at the box office and the first entry in his Night Chronicles series, Devil, has already paid for itself and wasn’t half bad to boot (read our Devil review here).
The Sixth Sense filmmaker has selected his next directorial project, titled One Thousand A.E., but here’s the real kicker – Shyamalan wrote neither the script or even the screen story for the feature.
One Thousand A.E. was penned by Garry Whitta, who also wrote The Book of Eli and the upcoming Kurt Russell supernatural project, Undying. Details on the film’s plot are being kept firmly under wraps in typical Shyamalan fashion, but the project is being developed by Will Smith’s Overbrook production company and – according to Heat Vision – is being developed as a vehicle for Smith’s son, Jaden. The former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is not expected to star alongside his son, even though One Thousand A.E. reportedly has a lead role for an adult male as well.
Shyamalan shopped around his latest screenplay this past June – which had attracted several big stars and was described as Taken with a supernatural edge – but failed to attract a buyer. He has plans for Last Airbender 2 & 3, but will tackle One Thousand A.E. before he returns to the fantastical land of element-benders.
If there’s one consistent complaint that Shyamalan critics seem to have, it’s that the man simply isn’t a very good screenwriter – kind of ironic, given that he’s actually a pretty creative storyteller and his movies tend to be character-driven. Shyamalan should benefit from working with someone else’s script, and it will likely help his reputation for being a bit of a control freak filmmaker since he can’t really claim One Thousand A.E. as “M. Night Shyamalan’s” (he might anyway – we’ll just have to hope for the best).
These days moviegoers don’t get as excited for Shyamalan’s projects like they did just a few years back, but that could change if his next film ends up being good. Twist endings have by now become almost a schtick for Shyamalan, so hopefully One Thousand A.E. will feature a plot that doesn’t attempt to pull the rug out from viewer’s feet at the last moment – that’s what we’re already expecting to happen, right?