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SYFY WIRE Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon launches Avatar Studios to build out world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra

By James Comtois
Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko

We've got some very good news for all you 'bender fans bummed that Netflix's upcoming live-action series based on Avatar: The Last Airbender won't have its original creators on board: Nickelodeon is launching an entire studio dedicated to creating new animated shows and films centered around the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. And the kicker? Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko will be at the helm. 

Avatar Studios, a new studio led by DiMartino and Konietzko, will create original content for theatrical releases as well as for on-demand streaming services. Although no story details have been disclosed, Nickelodeon has announced that the studio’s first project will be an animated theatrical film set to begin production this year.

Avatar Studios Logo

“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,” ViacomCBS Kids & Family President Brian Robbins said in a statement.

Considering the continued popularity of both series, dedicating an entire studio to make more sequels, prequels, and spinoffs would seem to make sense. Avatar: The Last Airbender originally aired for three seasons on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. 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. In addition to developing a large and enduring following, the show went on to win a bunch of awards, including the Peabody Award, a Primetime Emmy, Annie Awards, and Genesis Awards.

After its initial 61-episode run, Avatar: The Last Airbender then went on to become a massively popular comic book and graphic novel series. The series also inspired a live-action feature film directed by M. Night Shyamalan (which the show's original voice cast wasn't wild about), and Netflix is developing that aforementioned live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series (though again, without DiMartino’s and Konietzko’s involvement).

Avatar's follow-up series, The Legend of Korra, premiered on Nickelodeon in April 2012 and ran for 52 episodes over four seasons. Set in the same world as The Last Airbender but 70 years later, The Legend of Korra follows 17-year-old Avatar Korra as she uses her mastery of the four elements to confront political and spiritual unrest, all while hoping to live up to her predecessor Avatar Aang's legacy. Per the release, the show's first season garnered 3.8 million viewers per episode, the highest for an animated series that year. And like its predecessor series, The Legend of Korra also became a successful ongoing graphic novel series written by DiMartino. 

In a joint statement, DiMartino and Konietzko added that they are “excited to be back at Nickelodeon” and that “there are still many stories and time periods in Aang’s world that [they] are eager to bring to life."

With Avatar Studios' upcoming animated movie still in pre-production, no timetable has been announced yet as far as a release date.