The original creators of the all-time classic animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, did what anyone would do after falling out with Netflix: they started their own production studio. And they did it with Nickelodeon, the network that essentially buried DiMartino and Konietzko’s sequel series The Legend of Korra while it was on the air between 2012 to 2014. That’s the kind of Hollywood feud that the people love, and — even better — it will give us a whole slew of projects within the Avatar universe, including an exciting new animated movie that will be heading to the big screen.
It only took 16 years, but Nickelodeon finally realized what a gem they had with Avatar: The Last Airbender, the beloved animated fantasy epic that earned a surge of renewed interest when it arrived on Netflix last summer. The network announced that it’s launching Avatar Studios, a newly formed content division dedicated wholly to Avatar: The Last Airbender, which will kick off its expansion of the franchise with an original animated theatrical feature film.
The Avatar: The Last Airbender movie will begin production this year, and will feature the involvement of original series creators and executive producers DiMartino and Konietzko, who notably left Netflix’s still-ongoing live-action series adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender in a huff late last year. They have apparently been welcomed back with open arms by Nickelodeon, who set the duo at the head of the studio as co-chief creative officers.
Avatar Studios is “designed to create original content spanning animated series and movies based on the beloved world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra,” debuting on streaming platforms like Paramount+, Nickelodeon’s own platforms, as well as theaters.
It’s just the kind of aggressive franchise expansion that fans have long been craving — Avatar: The Last Airbender was a sensation among young viewers, who flocked to Legend of Korra even as the more mature series was dealt a bad hand by Nickelodeon. Comics and novels have sated Avatar fans’ hunger for now, but the stalled Netflix series — which is still moving forward, per Variety — and reports of its many changes to the source material have many of us anxious that we would get another disaster akin to the M. Night Shyamalan-directed live-action film. But now that DiMartino and Konietzko have the backing and resources of Nickelodeon to do whatever the hell they want with Avatar: The Last Airbender, things are finally looking up for a series that had long deserved the validation it’s now getting.
“Avatar: The Last Airbender and Korra have grown at least ten-fold in popularity since their original hit runs on Nickelodeon, and Ramsey Naito and I are incredibly excited to have Mike and Bryan’s genius talent on board to helm a studio devoted to expanding their characters and world into new content and formats for fans everywhere,” said Brian Robbins, president, ViacomCBS Kids & Family. “Creator-driven stories and characters have long been the hallmarks of Nickelodeon, and Avatar Studios is a way to give Mike and Bryan the resources and runway to open up their imaginations even more and dive deeper into the action and mythology of Avatar as we simultaneously expand upon that world and the world of content available on Paramount+ and Nickelodeon.”
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