Nickelodeon Launches Avatar Studios to Expand ‘Last Airbender’ Universe, Starting with New Movie

The creators of the original "Avatar: The Last Airbender" will work on a new animated feature film set in the same universe as the acclaimed TV series.
"Avatar: The Last Airbender"
"Avatar: The Last Airbender"

Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the creators of Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” are working on a new animated feature film that will be set in the same universe as the duo’s acclaimed television series.

ViacomCBS announced on Wednesday that that DiMartino and Konietzko will serve as co-chief creative officers at the newly launched Avatar Studios, which will create various animated series and films based in the “Last Airbender” world. The studio’s output will appear on the Paramount+ streaming service, Nickelodeon’s linear and digital platforms, as well as third-party platforms and in theaters.

Production will begin on the studio’s first animated feature film later this year. Specific details, including a release date, title, and the film’s setting, are currently under wraps.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 19 years since we created ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender.’ But even after all that time, there are still many stories and time periods in Aang’s world that we are eager to bring to life,” Konietzko and DiMartino said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have an ever-growing community of passionate fans that enjoys exploring the Avatarverse as much as we do. And with this new Avatar Studios venture, we have an unparalleled opportunity to develop our franchise and its storytelling on a vast scale, in myriad exciting ways and mediums. We are exceedingly grateful to Brian Robbins and Ramsey Naito for their enthusiasm and respect for the Avatar property and us as its stewards. From the start, they’ve supported our ambitious plans and created a positive, proactive environment for us. We’re excited to be back at Nickelodeon where ‘Avatar’ began, doing what we do best in the biggest way possible. We can’t wait to build the great teams and productions to make all of this fantasy a reality.”

“The Last Airbender” premiered on Nickelodeon in 2005 and ran for three seasons before concluding in 2008. The series, which takes place in a fantasy world where select individuals can control the powers of water, earth, air, or fire, follows the adventures of Avatar Aang and his friends, who must save the world by defeating Fire Lord Ozai and ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation, is widely regarded as one of the greatest animated shows in television history. Konietzko and DiMartino also co-created sequel series “The Legend of Korra,” which received similarly strong reviews and aired for four seasons.

Konietzko and DiMartino were originally involved in Netflix’s upcoming live-action adaptation of “The Last Airbender” but exited the project in August 2020 due to creative differences. At the time, sources close to Netflix’s production told IndieWire that there had been creative differences between the duo, Netflix, and other individuals involved in the project over how to best adapt the animated series into a live-action show.

Avatar Studios’ upcoming animated feature will mark the second film adaptation of “The Last Airbender.” M. Night Shyamalan directed 2010’s notorious “The Last Airbender” film, which received scathing reviews from critics as well as low marks from fans of the original series.

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