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Nickelodeon expands 'Avatar' universe with launch of new studio

By Christian Imperio Published Feb 25, 2021 10:54 pm Updated Feb 25, 2021 11:12 pm

Nickelodeon is expanding the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra with the launch of Avatar Studios. 

The network announced that the newly formed division will create anime programs and movies based on the beloved series, with original creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko joining the studio as co-chief creative officers. The news came months after DiMartin and Konietzko departed Netflix's upcoming live-action adaption of Avatar: The Last Airbender due to creative differences.

Avatar Studios’ first project will be an animated theatrical film, which is set to begin production this year. Additional details about the upcoming project will be announced soon, according to Nickelodeon.

“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 medium. 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 statement continued.

The highly-popular anime series debuted on Nickelodeon in 2005 and aired until 2008 for a total of three seasons. The series follows the adventures of Aang and his friends, who must save the world by defeating Fire Lord Ozai and ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation. The series received several awards during its run which include the Peabody Award, a Primetime Emmy, Annie Awards and Genesis Awards. Apart from the success of the series, the property has also been translated into a comic book and graphic novel series.

The Legend of Korra, on the other hand, was first launched in April 2012 and ran for four seasons with a total of 52 episodes. Created and executive produced by DiMartino and Konietzko, the series has been translated in more than 25 languages for Nickelodeon branded channels internationally. 

The sequel series is set in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender 70 years later and follows the journey of Avatar Korra, a 17-year-old girl striving to live up to the legacy of her predecessor Avatar Aang, while using her mastery of all four elements to confront political and spiritual unrest in a modernizing world.

Avatar: The Last Airbender and Korra have grown at least ten-fold in popularity since their original hit runs on Nickelodeon, and Ramsey Naito and I are incredibly excited to have Mike and Bryan’s genius talent on board to helm a studio devoted to expanding their characters and world into new content and formats for fans everywhere,” ViacomCBS Kids & Family president Brian Robbins said. “Creator-driven stories and characters have long been the hallmarks of Nickelodeon, and Avatar Studios is a way to give Mike and Bryan the resources and runway to open up their imaginations even more and dive deeper into the action and mythology of Avatar as we simultaneously expand upon that world and the world of content available on Paramount+ and Nickelodeon.”

(Image from IMDB)