Nickelodeon has detailed the launch of Avatar Studios, a newly formed division designed to create new animated series and movies based on the Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.
New, original content will bow on platforms including Paramount+, ViacomCBS’s own subscription video-on-demand service, as well as on Nickelodeon’s own linear and digital platforms, and third party platforms and theatres.
The first project from Avatar Studios is slated as an animated theatrical film which is set to being production this year. The new studio will be lead by the original creators and executive producers Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, taking up the roles of co-chief creative officers.
The pair will report into Ramsey Naito, president, Nickelodeon Animation.
“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,” said Brian Robbins, president, ViacomCBS Kids & Family.
“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.”
Koniettzko and DiMartino, added: “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. 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 mediums.
“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.”
Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender aired for three seasons originally on Nickelodeon, where it began in February 2005 and concluded in July 2008. The series has received the Peabody Award, a Primetime Emmy, Annie Awards and Genesis Awards. The series follows the adventures of the main protagonist Aang and his friends, who must save the world by defeating Fire Lord Ozai and ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation.
Avatar: The Last Airbender emerged from its initial three seasons (61 episodes) as one of the most beloved animated properties in history. In addition to the series’ success, the property also has been translated into a successful comic book and graphic novel series, which continue to roll out new original stories.
The “Avatar: The Last Airbender” graphic novel spent 70 cumulative weeks on the New York Times Graphic Novel Bestseller list, hitting number one. The DVD and Blu-rays are also incredibly successful, with the “Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Series” generating nearly $5MM in retail sales since its 2018 release.
Meanwhile, The Legend of Korra launched in April 2012 on Nickelodeon and ran for four seasons (52 episodes). Its first season premiered as basic cable’s number one kid’s show and drew 3.8 million viewers per episode, the highest for an animated series that year. Created and executive produced by DiMartino and Konietzko, the series is translated in more than 25 languages for Nickelodeon branded channels internationally.
The property has translated into a successful ongoing graphic novel series written by TV series co-creator DiMartino. The first graphic novel storyline, Legend of Korra: Turf Wars, has captured various Top 10 sales spots across children’s fiction, YA science fiction, and graphic novel categories since its debut in 2017.
The story of The Legend of Korra, set in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender 70 years later, 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.