Nicole Sperling
April 16, 2008 AT 04:05 AM EDT

Paramount Pictures has greenlit M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender for a July 4, 2010, release. Shyamalan will begin production on the live-action epic adventure, based on Nickelodeon’s animated TV series, this August. “I love martial arts and the Japanese culture,”  Shyamalan tells EW. “This particular piece has an intensely spiritual Buddhist substory that I really dug.” Airbender is about a world in which civilization is divided into four feuding nations: Water, Earth, Air, and Fire. The film’s reluctant hero, Aang, a.k.a. the Last Airbender, undertakes a perilous journey to bring those nations together.

The studio is counting on the writer/director to bring an action-filled family adventure to the big screen, one that has the epic nature of Lord of the Rings and the action and spectacle of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Airbender marks the first project Shyamalan will direct that is based on someone else’s material.

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