Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are “well on their way” in developing a new slate of films and shows based on their popular animated series, Brian Robbins, president and CEO of Nickelodeon and chief content officer of kids and family for Paramount+, said on the ViacomCBS video series Streaming On. But these new movies will look a bit different than the beloved original series.
DiMartino and Konietzko were originally attached to create a live-action Avatar series for Netflix. But they stepped away in 2020 and established Avatar Studios, which will produce new The Last Airbender-based content for Nickelodeon.
Here’s what Robbins said about how the work has been progressing:
“One of the other big projects that we’re working on, on the theatrical front is Avatar. We signed a deal to bring the original creators of Avatar back into the studios. They started Avatar Studios, and they’re well on their way in development on a series of CG films and a new Avatar series.”
The original animated series aired for three seasons from 2005 to 2008. It became a wildly successful hit for Nickelodeon, and a live-action film trilogy was quickly planned. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, the first The Last Airbender movie released in 2010 was was roundly rejected by both critics and fans. Its lukewarm box office reception and dismissal by audiences at large effectively ended all future plans for a theatrical trilogy, and for a while, contributed significantly to the derailment of Shyamalan’s career. Konietzko and DiMartino, however, went on to create the sequel series The Legend of Korra, which aired from 2012 to 2014.
The live-action Netflix series was announced in 2018, and in an August 2020 open letter, DiMartino wrote that him and Konietzko had made the “difficult decision to leave the production” after they realized, two years into development, that the version that Netflix wanted would “not be what Bryan and (DiMartino) had envisioned or intended to make.”
He went into more detail:
“Look, things happen. Productions are challenging. Unforeseen events arise. Plans have to change. And when those things have happened at other points during my career, I try to be like an Air Nomad and adapt. I do my best to go with the flow, no matter what obstacle is put in my way. But even an Air Nomad knows when it’s time to cut their losses and move on.”
As expected, Netflix is chugging along with the live-action series. Just last month, the streamer announced the main cast and creative team behind the show. The showrunner, executive producer, and writer will be Albert Kim, best known for his work on Sleepy Hollow and Nikita. Gordon Cormier, Kiawentiio, Ian Ousley and Dallas Liu will play the four lead characters, Aang, Katara, Sokka and Zuko, respectively.