sign up

*This field is required

*A valid email address is required

*This field is required

*Your password and comfirmation password doesn't match

Paramount, Nickelodeon Confirm Three Animated “Avatar: The Last Airbender” Movies

by Emily Nagle

The Four Nations are returning to the big screen! Paramount and Nickelodeon have announced that three animated films based on “Avatar: The Last Airbender” are in the works.

At the Annecy International Animation Film Festival this morning, the animation divisions of both companies confirmed the news in a special presentation. Lauren Montgomery, a storyboard artist for the original series who also produced spinoff “The Legend of Korra”, is on board to direct the first film. Slated to produce the entire trilogy are series co-creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino, who exited the production of Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the series citing ‘creative differences. These films will be created by Nickelodeon Animation’s own Avatar Studios, which was established last year specifically to create projects in the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” canon.

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” premiered on Nickelodeon in 2005, and aired on the network until 2008. During its three-year run on the channel, it was critically acclaimed, receiving several awards for its writing, animation, and themes. Since becoming available on Netflix in spring 2020, the show has experienced a resurgence in popularity, with a whole new generation of fans growing fond of it. The show is set in a world of elemental magic in which people are divided into four nations with the ability to manipulate their respective elements, which are as follows: the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads.

The reason for the show’s timelessness over a decade later? Series creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko believe “Avatar’s” renaissance was due in part to nostalgia, but mainly thanks to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and an uptick in racial violence. The show was renowned for exploring advanced concepts most children’s media at the time left untouched, including genocide, imperialism, and freedom of choice; these themes relate to current events.

In en email to The Washington Post, co-creator Michael DiMartino wrote of the show’s evergreen subject matter, “The major issues in the stories — genocide, totalitarianism, systemic injustice, abuse — sadly, these have been pervasive issues throughout history and continue to be. The show is a reflection of our world.”

While this will be Avatar Studios’ first foray into the feature film world, this isn’t the first time “Avatar: The Last Airbender” has been adapted into a feature film; in 2010, M. Night Shyamalan wrote and directed a live-action film based on the show’s first season, titled The Last Airbender. Despite its $150 million budget (at the time of its release, it was the most expensive film Shyamalan had ever made), the movie ended up bombing at the box office due to its poor acting, lackluster visuals, and plot holes. To this day, it is still regarded as one of the worst films of the 2010s, holding a 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Never seen “Avatar: The Last Airbender”? Check out the show’s iconic title sequence!

With the creative team from the original series on board for the upcoming films, the animated “Avatar: The Last Airbender film” trilogy is sure to take the critically acclaimed fantasy show to new, exciting territories.

Ramsey Naito, president of animation & development at Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Animation, said in a statement, “As original creators Mike and Bryan expand the ‘Avatar’ universe with us, we’re keeping it all in the family with Lauren bringing the same kind of expert, beautiful work she did on the original series to her new directing duties on the forthcoming theatrical.”

In the meantime, episodes of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” are available to watch with a Netflix or Paramount+ subscription, as well as individually purchased episodes on Prime Video, Vudu, or Apple TV+.