Rick Marshall wrote: I asked him what we're likely to see on the DVD release of the film — and whether we'll eventually get a "director's cut" of "The Last Airbender."
"All my movies are the director's cut, so that's it," he laughed. "You get to watch it in the movie theaters."
Some readers interpret this as he does not want an extended cut, as the movie is "intended" to have a running time of 103 minutes. I disagree with this, as I consider the director's cut and the allocated running time as two different things. In the case of Blade Runner, both the 1982 "studio-imposed" theatrical cut and the 1992 director's cut were 116 minutes long. For the Lord of The Rings film series, the director Peter Jackson said that the theatrical cuts are his preferred cuts even though he made available the extended editions. Paramount may have given M.Night the final cut privilege, but he may still be constrained with the running time.
Does M.Night want the movie to be longer than 103 minutes? I think the answer is YES!
From the NY Magazine Inteview with M.Night Shyamalan:
NYMAG wrote:Airbender's running time is only 104 minutes, which isn't very long considering that it's an adaptation of the twenty-episode first season of the cartoon. Was it hard to pack everything in there?
I'm dying to make a two-hour movie, I just haven’t earned it yet. I’m really tough in cutting and I have a style that creates a certain pace, and a way of writing where I try to get nuances in one scene that help other scenes; it creates a very similar pacing in every movie. Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and I believe The Village were all the exact same length. So it’s very bizarre. I guess also when I’m constructing the story in the script form, it must be that there’s just an inherent kind of "I need to be at this place in the story" driving me. So maybe that’s where it’s coming from.
Another supporting quote is from the IO9 Interview with M.Night Shyamalan:
IO9 wrote:A lot of people look at the trailer and they assume the film is the entire first season. But it can't possibly be because there wouldn't be enough time for everything. There's a lot of really fun, smaller moments like King Bumi and things of that nature. What was cut?
The first outline I made of the movie I bought Mike and Bryan to my house and said, "I have an outline of the movie, what do you think?" And they said, "This is like 10 hours long. You have to cut stuff." And I thought, "I can't. I love everything."
If M.Night wanted a longer running time, who told him to cut it short? Why would Paramount tell him to do that? I have a few theories, but that may be a discussion for another time... or a different thread.
EDIT-1: Added a reference to the Lord of the Rings.