3:04pm PT by Rick Porter
'Avatar: Last Airbender' Expanded Universe Set at Nickelodeon
Nickelodeon is reviving the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender in a big way.
The ViacomCBS unit has launched Avatar Studios, a new division that will create series and movie projects based on the beloved animated show and its follow-up, The Legend of Korra. Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko will serve as co-chief creative officers of the new venture, reporting to Nickelodeon Animation president Ramsey Naito.
The first project for Avatar Studios is an animated feature film set to begin production later this year, with additional details to be announced.
"Avatar: The Last Airbender and Korra have grown at least tenfold 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," said ViacomCBS Kids & Family president Brian Robbins. "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."
Content from Avatar Studios will debut on ViacomCBS' SVOD service Paramount+ — which launches March 4 and was the primary focus of an investor presentation Wednesday afternoon — and on Nickelodeon's linear and digital platforms as well as third-party outlets and in theaters.
Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra stream on CBS All Access (which will become Paramount+ next week) as well as Netflix and Amazon's Prime Video.
Netflix, meanwhile, announced plans in 2018 to develop a live-action adaptation of The Last Airbender, with DiMartino and Konietzko attached as showrunners. The pair left the project in August 2020, however, citing creative differences: "Mike and I are collaborative people; we did not need all the ideas to come from us. As long as we felt those ideas were in line with the spirit and integrity of Avatar, we would have happily embraced them," Konietzko said at the time. "However, we ultimately came to the belief that we would not be able to meaningfully guide the direction of the series." Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter the Netflix project, the only live action production based on the franchise, is still active.
Also Wednesday, Nickelodeon announced that the original cast of Rugrats — E.G. Daily, Nancy Cartwright, Cheryl Chase, Cree Summer and Kath Soucie — will reprise their roles in CG-animated revival of the show. It's set to debut on Paramount+ later in the year.