‘The Last Airbender’ Creators Exit Netflix’s Live-Action Adaptation

Tyler Hersko
·3 min read

Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the creators of Nickelodeon’s classic “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” have exited Netflix’s upcoming live-action adaptation.

DiMartino announced the news Wednesday morning in an open letter on his website, which can be read here.

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“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 honoring 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 did not go as we had hoped,” DiMartino said in his open letter.

“Look, things happen. Productions are challenging. Unforeseen events arise. Plans have to change. And when those things have happened at other points during my career, I try to be like an Air Nomad and adapt. I do my best to go with the flow, no matter what obstacle is put in my way. But even an Air Nomad knows when it’s time to cut their losses and move on.”

DiMartino went on to note that Netflix’s adaptation has “the potential to be good” but stressed that, whatever happens with the series, it wouldn’t be what he and Konietzko “had envisioned or intended to make.” He stated that the decision was the hardest professional decision he had ever made, but said it was “necessary for my happiness and creative integrity.”

We have complete respect and admiration for Michael and Bryan and the story that they created in the ‘Avatar’ animated series,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to IndieWire. “Although they have chosen to depart the live-action project, we are confident in the creative team and their adaptation.”

Sources close to production told IndieWire that there had been creative differences between the duo, Netflix and other individuals involved in the project over how to best adapt the animated series into a live-action show. Production is moving forward with Nickelodeon, Dan Lin, and the team at Rideback attached.

Few details about Netflix’s live-action adaptation, which was announced in September 2018, have been released. Netflix recently acquired licensing rights to “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and its sequel series, “Avatar: The Legend of Korra.” The original series has been seeing great success on the streaming service since its May debut, and the sequel books are among the most anticipated titles in August.

While there have been no shortage of live-action adaptations of beloved animated titles over the years, Netflix’s impending adaptation will likely face particular scrutiny due to Shyamalan’s notoriously poorly-received 2010 “The Last Airbender” film. The live-action film, which was based on the first season of the cartoon, received scathing reviews from fans and critics alike.

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