The animated universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender is expanding with three films in development from Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Animation. The pics are the first projects to come out of Avatar Studios, a dedicated content division set up in 2021 to grow the brand beyond its two 2D-animated TV series.
The first movie will be directed by newcomer Lauren Montgomery, who worked as a storyboard artist on Avatar: The Last Airbender and a producer on spinoff The Legend of Korra. Avatar Studios co-heads and Avatar creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are producing the films with Eric Coleman (an EP on Avatar: The Last Airbender). For Paramount/Nickelodeon Animation, Latifa Ouaou (EVP of movies and global franchises) will oversee development with Jason McConnell (VP of animation).
The Last Airbender (pictured) is a 61 x 22-minute action-adventure series about a group of kids with elemental powers who try to bring peace to their world. First released in 2005, it ran for three seasons on Nickelodeon. It was later picked up for a 2020 streaming launch on Netflix, where it gained a new audience, prompting Nick to expand the brand.
The franchise’s TV offerings are on a bit of a hot streak lately, with Parrot Analytics reporting above-average demand for both The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Using its multi-factor measurement algorithm, Parrot reports that Airbender has been almost 20% more in-demand than the average TV series in the US over the last 30 days, with Korra coming in at almost 14%.
ViacomCBS set up Avatar Studios in February 2021 to exploit the growing popularity of the IP. Four months later, Nickelodeon launched the Avatar-branded podcast Avatar: Braving the Elements (40 episodes), in which voice actors from the original series re-watch the show and share trivia.