Nickelodeon announces the creation of Avatar Studios, a division designed to create more content for the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Nickelodeon announces the creation of Avatar Studios, a division designed to create more content for the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Nickelodeon’s Avatar only ran for three seasons from 2005 to 2008, but its popularity is currently bigger than ever. The animated series is centered on Aang, the titular last airbender who stands as his world’s last hope for peace. Over the years, it has been praised for its inventive world-building, well-written character arcs, and its appeal to fans both young and old. The success of Avatar later led to a sequel series, The Legend of Korra, and a live-action film that was widely panned by critics and fans.
Last year, Avatar’s Netflix debut helped the series reach an entirely new audience and propelled it to brand new heights. Reports have indicated Avatar was Netflix’s most-watched animated kids’ show in 2020, and The Legend of Korra made quite a splash too. As a result, there has been renewed interest in new content from Aang’s world. Netflix is currently in development on their own live-action Avatar series, but updates have been relatively slow to come. It also suffered a blow when the show’s original creators departed over creative differences. Now, there’s a major development in the Avatar realm – but it isn’t coming from Netflix.
Nickelodeon has established Avatar Studios, a new division that will create original content spanning animated shows and movies set within the world of The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Avatar’s original creators, Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino, will serve co-chief creative officers, and they will report to Nickelodeon Animation head Ramsey Naito. It’s said Avatar Studios will create content for a variety of platforms, including Paramount+, Nickelodeon, third-party platforms, and theaters. Konietzko and DiMartino said in a statement:
“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. 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 first project to emerge from Avatar Studios will be a brand new animated theatrical film, which is expected to go into production later this year. No plot details have been given so far. Nevertheless, it’s clear there are plenty of story opportunities present within the Avatar universe, and this new venture will explore as many as possible. The promise of additional animated shows is especially promising, since that’s where the Avatar brand originated.
What’s particularly interesting about the creation of Avatar Studios is Konietzko and DiMartino’s involvement. Fans were disappointed last summer when the two exited Netflix’s live-action Avatar series over creative differences. At the time, Konietzko indicated he and DiMartino would still be working inside the Avatar universe, and it looks like this is what he was referring to. Their inclusion in Avatar Studios promises the content that emerges from it will be true to the original spirit of Avatar, and that it will be the stories they wish to tell. What this means for Netflix’s adaptation remains to be seen, but on the surface, it looks like Avatar Studios is the more natural way forward for the franchise. Either way, there is plenty of content ahead.