Annual event given glimpse of 'Last Airbender'

The annual licensing expo kicked off its last year at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Gotham with a telescopic view of a new Nick property: M. Night Shyamalan’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Pic, slated for a 2010 release, is a live-action adaptation of Nick’s anime-inspired show.

Paramount Film Group prexy John Lesher and Shyamalan were on hand to tout the movie. Shyamalan, who wanted to do the adaptation and sought to win Nick over, recalled that his words to the film’s producers were “I think you have ‘Star Wars.’ ” He then led into a presentation of the film’s “sizzle reel” — concept art for its settings and costumes intercut with short clips from other pics a la the fan-made fake “Star Wars” trailers that preceded the release of “Attack of the Clones.”

Pic is a shot across the bow in the war between Nick and Cartoon Network for young viewers: “Ben 10: Race Against Time,” Cartoon’s live-action adaptation of its anime-inspired show “Ben 10,” gave the net its highest ratings ever, and Cartoon retains a leg up with advertisers due to its predominantly male aud despite lagging Nick significantly in the ratings.

Nick & Viacom Consumer Products prexy Leigh Ann Brodsky praised “Avatar’s” versatility, saying that she applauded the success of “Ben 10″ as well. “It’s interesting anytime a great property can resurface in a new medium,” Brodsky observed.

Warner Bros. was on hand to tout “Speed Racer.” Even though the film drastically underperformed, Warners’ Brad Globe noted that Mattel’s toy lines in particular had been surprisingly successful. “We continue to sell ‘Speed Racer,’ ” Globe said. “In fact, it’s comparable to the last ‘Batman.’ ”

Up-and-comer Chorion exhibited a varied library of properties, including a CG cartoon of classic children’s book “Olivia,” set for Nick in the first quarter next year. The company has found success with its lifestyle-centric rebranding of the “Mr. Men” line of children’s books, which has spawned endless T-shirts and accessories, as well as a show on Cartoon.

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