Avatar: The Last Airbender Creators Leave Netflix Live-Action Series

First ordered in September 2018, Netflix's planned live-action "reimagining" of Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko's anime series Avatar: The Last Airbender has had fans waiting for almost two years for any kind of serious update. Well, that news drought broke in a big way on Wednesday- just not in the way fans had hoped. In an open letter on their website (you can read the complete letter below), DiMartino and Konietzko revealed that they are no longer involved with the project: "Many of you have been asking me for updates about the 'Avatar' live-action Netflix series. I can finally tell you that I am no longer involved with the project. In June of this year, after two years of development work, Bryan Konietzko and I made the difficult decision to leave the production."

Avatar: The Last Airbender (Image: Nickelodeon)
Avatar: The Last Airbender (Image: Nickelodeon)

DiMartino continues, dropping a ten-ton implication that streamer's commitment to their vision didn't remain as strong as it first started. "Unfortunately, things did not go as we had hoped," he wrote. "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."

While DiMartino wishes the upcoming series well, he wants to make it clear that it will not be what he and Konietzko envisioned: "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 Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make."

On the other hand, Konietzko wasn't sounding so diplomatic in the following Instagram post, where he says that they believed that "we would not be able to meaningfully guide the direction of the series (full post below). The award-winning Nickelodeon animated series ran for three seasons (from 2005-2008) and spawned the sequel series Legend of Korra, which aired for four seasons (from 2012-2014).

 

View this post on Instagram

 

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 post shared by Bryan Konietzko (@bryankonietzko) on

Here's a look at the full posted letter:

"Many of you have been asking me for updates about the Avatar live-action Netflix series. I can finally tell you that I am no longer involved with the project. In June of this year, after two years of development work, Bryan Konietzko and I made the difficult decision to leave the production.

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.

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.

I started to reevaluate what is truly important in my life and what I wanted to do with what's left of it. I took some advice from Uncle Iroh. I looked inward and started asking myself the big question: "Who are you and what do you want?"

I also sought wisdom from Stoic philosophers who were big on differentiating between what is within our control and what isn't. I realized I couldn't control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I 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 Bryan and I had envisioned or intended to make.

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.

Writing this letter has left me with a very heavy heart. I know many of you will be disappointed and frustrated by this news. I get it. I share your disappointment and frustration. I also recognize this creative setback is small compared to the problems we're all facing as a society right now.

Thankfully, Iroh offered some wisdom for that, too: "Sometimes life is like this dark tunnel. You can't always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving you will come to a better place."

May we all keep moving and come to a better place.

Thanks for reading and for your continued enthusiasm for the Avatar universe.

With gratitude,

Michael Dante DiMartino"

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought on board as staff in 2017.

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