In an unexpected turn of events, Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko have announced to be leaving Netflix’s planned live-action adaptation of the acclaimed animated series.
Taking to social media, DiMartino revealed the news yesterday, 12 August, in an open letter, explaining the situation. He and his creative partner left their posts as showrunners and executive producers of the series, this June after two years of development.
“When Bryan and I signed on to the project in 2018, we were hired as executive producers and showrunners. In a joint announcement for the series, Netflix said that it was committed to honouring our vision for this retelling and to supporting us on creating the series. And we expressed how excited we were for the opportunity to be at the helm. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as we had hoped,” DiMartino wrote.
He further mentioned that he realised he “couldn’t control the creative direction of the series,” but that he could control how he responded. “So, I chose to leave the project. It was the hardest professional decision I’ve ever had to make, and certainly not one that I took lightly, but it was necessary for my happiness and creative integrity. And who knows? Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good. It might turn out to be a show many of you end up enjoying. But what I can be certain about is that whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Konietzko and I had envisioned or intended to make,” he added.
Konietzko too released a statement revealing that both of them will have no involvement in the live-action adaptation of the animated series created in 2002, moving forward.
“This is probably the most difficult decision I have ever made , but there is no doubt in my mind it was absolutely the right choice. When Netflix brought me on the board to run this series alongside DiMartino, they made a very public promise to support our vision. Unfortunately, there was no follow-through on that promise,” he wrote.
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Well, friends… there you have it. Big sigh. ?⬇️? I’m sure many of you will understandably want to know more and will ask me questions in the comments, here and on subsequent posts and live-streams and in-person encounters and everywhere else ad infinitum. I wish I could explain things in greater detail, but the above statement is really all I can say about the matter so I won’t be answering any of those. I encourage you to head over to my partner Michael DiMartino’s account to get his take on our departure too: @mike_dante_d Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of the Avatar: The Last Airbender fans, and I’m sorry our involvement in the live-action project did not work out. Time to get on with my life. Onward and upward. ? Love, Bryan #avatarthelastairbender #cocreators #michaeldimatino #bryankonietzko #bryke #atla #liveactionseries #netflix
A Netflix spokesperson issued a statement following the public responses from DiMartino and Konietzko, “We have complete respect and admiration for DiMartino and Konietzko and the story that they created in the Avatar animated series. Although they have chosen to depart the live-action project, we are confident in the creative team and their adaptation.”
The live-action series is still on track with Nickelodeon, Dan Lin, and the team at Rideback attached, as EW reported.
Konietzko added, “Though I got to work with some great individuals, both on Netflix’s side and on our own small development team, the general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and unsupportive environment… DiMartino and I are collaborative people, we did not need all of 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. However, we ultimately came to the belief that we would not be able to meaningfully guide the direction of the series.”
The popular Nickelodeon animated series has earned a legacy that has only grown with time, gaining more eyeballs when it launched on Netflix this past May. Its sequel series, The Legend of Korra, portraying the adventures of Aang’s Avatar successor, arrives on the platform this week.
The Avatar saga tells the tale of four nations of Benders, people with the ability to manipulate one of the four elements: earth, air, fire, water. Only the Avatar, a being born once every life cycle, can master all four elements. Awakening from a years-long slumber within a block of ice, Aang, the new Avatar, meets an unrecognisable world where the Fire Nation has waged war against the other territories for world domination.
Having left the live-action series, however, DiMartino assured to be involved with the franchise at large, which includes comic books and novels.