Avatar Had to Add "The Last Airbender" Because of James Cameron

In the BCTV world, when you mention "Avatar"? The first thing that comes to mind is the beloved Nickelodeon animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender (no disrespect to James Cameron's film franchise). But one question that's been floating around officially unanswered for years was if there was any connection between the two universes other than "Avatar." Thankfully, animator & series director Giancarlo Volpe (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, The Dragon Prince) has shed some light on how Cameron's films and the animated world are connected in a very legal way. So here's your history lesson for today. Cameron worked up an 80-page treatment for Avatar in 1994, but the production wouldn't get off the ground until 2006 because Cameron was waiting for motion capture technology to reach a level that would work with Cameron's vision. But even though Cameron waited 12 years, that didn't mean that he gave up the rights to the title.

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Image: Nickelodeon/20th Century Studios

"In 2004, we learned that we had to change the name of our show from 'Avatar' to 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' because James Cameron already had the rights to a movie called Avatar,'" Volpe shared via Twitter this week. "Now the sequel is called 'The Way of Water.' If part 3 is called 'The Firebending Masters,' we riot," the animator/director joked. Here's a look at Volpe's tweet:

As for the future, things are looking pretty good for both franchises. Cameron has "The Way of Water" hitting shores later this month, with a possible fourth and fifth film on the way. On the animated front, Paramount Pictures and Avatar Studios (founded by original series creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko) will have a "The Last Airbender" universe feature hitting theaters in October 2025, with plans for additional projects (also set around "The Legend of Korra") currently in development. In addition, Netflix has filming underway on a live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series.

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Ray FlookAbout Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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