Nickelodeon to expand Avatar: The Last Airbender with creators — first up is an animated film
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When the world needed it the most, the Avatarverse has returned.
Nickelodeon is launching Avatar Studios, a new division to create original content spanning animated series and movies based on the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, the network announced Wednesday during ViacomCBS' Investor Day presentation. Original creators and executive producers Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko will lead the studio as co-chief creative officers.
The first project is already lined up: an animated theatrical film set to begin production this year.
In an exclusive statement to EW, DiMartino and Konietzko expressed their excitement to "develop our franchise and its storytelling on a vast scale, in myriad exciting ways and mediums."
"It's hard to believe it's been 19 years since we created Avatar: The Last Airbender," they said. "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. 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," they continued. "We are exceedingly grateful to [Nickelodeon president] Brian Robbins and [president of Nickelodeon Animation] 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."
DiMartino and Konietzko concluded, "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."
ATLA, which ran on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008, follows a young monk named Aang as he masters the four elements and strives to save his divided world from the ruthless Fire Nation, with help from his friends. The Emmy- and Peabody-winning series has been acclaimed for its storytelling, world-building influenced by Asian and Native cultures, and handling of darker subjects like misogyny and imperialism. It spawned a sequel, The Legend of Korra, as well as numerous graphic novels.
Both series have enjoyed an immense resurgence in the last year as they came to streaming platforms. In 2018, Netflix also stoked excitement when it revealed it was working with the creators on a reimagined Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series. So fans were disappointed when DiMartino and Konietzko announced their departure from the project in August, stating they had lost control of the series' "creative direction."
Now that the creators are helming Avatar Studios, fans have a lot more to look forward to.
The studio's output will debut on platforms including Paramount+, ViacomCBS' subscription video on-demand service; Nickelodeon's own linear and digital platforms; and third-party platforms and in theaters.