UPDATED with Netflix statement: Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, co-creators of Netflix’s live-action adaptation of their original animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, have exited the project.
“Many of you have been asking me for updates about the Avatar live-action Netflix series,” DiMartino wrote in an open letter to fans on his website Wednesday. “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.”
Though Netflix said it “was committed to honoring our vision for this retelling and to supporting us on creating the series,” DiMartino wrote, “Unfortunately, things did not go as we had hoped.”
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DiMartino continued, “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.”
“And who knows? Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Avatar has the potential to be good,” he wrote. “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.”
He also made clear, that while he’s exiting the project, it does not mean the end of his 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,” DiMartino wrote.
There had been creative differences on how best to adapt the animated series into the live action series between DiMartino and Konietzko and Netflix and the other creatives throughout the development process over the past two years, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. The project is still moving forward with Nickelodeon, Dan Lin and Lin’s Rideback still attached, we hear.
“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. “Although they have chosen to depart the live action project, we are confident in the creative team and their adaptation.”
Netflix ordered the live-action series adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender in 2018. DiMartino and Konietzko’s original Avatar: The Last Airbender aired for three seasons on Nickelodeon from February 2005-July 2008, winning an Emmy in 2017 and a Peabody Award among other honors. The series followed main protagonist Aang and his friends, who must save the world by defeating Fire Lord Ozai and ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation. A total of 61 episodes aired.
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