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Avatar: The Last Airbender creators cut ties with Netflix adaptation

The creators of the beloved Nickelodeon animated show Avatar: The Last Airbender have cut ties with the upcoming live-action Netflix adaptation, stating that they left in June of this year after two years in preproduction.

Michael Dante DiMartino claimed in a letter that he and co-creator Bryan Konietzko felt a lack of an ability to control the direction of the production and little support for their vision, a commitment that the streaming giant had previously made public when Netflix announced the remake.

“Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good, but what I can be certain about is that whatever version ends up on screen, it will not be what Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make,” DiMartino said in a statement. “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.”

Netflix released the following statement about the creators’ decision to leave: “We have complete respect and admiration for Michael and Bryan 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.”

Netflix went on to explain that creative differences arose between DiMartino and Konietzko, the other creatives involved with the show, and Netflix itself over the preproduction process. It was the pair’s choice to step away from the project, and the live-action show is still in development, Netflix said.

When the adaptation was announced in 2018, the creative pair issued a joint statement that stated “Netflix is wholly dedicated to manifesting our vision for this retelling, and we’re incredibly grateful to be partnering with them.”

As far as either of the creators is aware, Netflix still plans on going ahead with the remake without their involvement.

DiMartino ended his statement on a more positive note, committing to future Avatar stories. “I also want to be clear that this doesn’t mean the end of my involvement in the Avatar universe. These stories and characters are important to me, and the renewed interest and excitement in Avatar and Korra has been inspiring to see.”

Avatar: The Last Airbender expanded past its original three-season animated show with a spinoff, The Legend of Korra, that told the story of the Avatar that followed Aang, the protagonist of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Since then, a handful of graphic novels and books have fleshed out the world of both shows, and a much-maligned live-action film adaptation of the original show’s first season was released in 2010.

Both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra will soon be available on Netflix, with the latter releasing on the platform in the coming days.

Updated August 12, 2020, with a statement from Netflix.

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Tom Caswell
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