Avatar Studios will be launched with the intention of continuing the beloved Nickelodeon franchise.
The studio, which will be run by series creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, will produce brand new content set in the Avatar universe including animated movies and TV shows. The first of these new stories will be a film which will begin production later this year.
Nickelodeon made the announcement on Wednesday during ViacomCBS’ Investor Day presentation. In a joint statement to Entertainment Weekly, DiMartino and Konietzko said they looked forward to expanding the world they first introduced in 2005.
“There are still many stories and time periods in Aang’s world that we are eager to bring to life,” they said. “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.”
Running from 2005 to 2008, the original series Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA) was set in a fictional land inspired largely by East Asian history and culture. The world is split into the four major nations of Water, Earth, Fire and Air, whose citizens can harness their respective element like magic – called bending. The show follows Aang, an ‘airbender’ and the spiritual figure known as the avatar, who has the ability to bend all four elements.
Despite primarily being a kids show, ATLA was praised for its strong characters, story, and mature themes such as war, genocide and trauma. It was followed in 2012 by the sequel series The Legend of Korra (TLOK), which followed the avatar after Aang. Though more polarising and with lower viewer ratings than the original series, TLOK was still well-liked by fans, but was ultimately cancelled by Nickelodeon in 2014.
It is still unknown what the new film will be about or whether it will follow new or existing characters. A live-action remake was directed by M. Night Shyamalan in 2010, but was widely panned by critics and fans of the show alike. A new live-action Netflix show was announced in 2018 with both original creators overseeing, though DiMartino and Konietzko have since left the production over disagreements with its direction.
For many fans, an animated follow up with the creators on board is exactly what has been sought ever since TLOK ended seven years ago.
Words by Harry Douglas-Gratton