Avatar: The Last Airbender feels like it has been around forever with such a rich universe and cool characters, but it’s kind of easy to forget that originally this show only lasted a few seasons. That being said, its popularity has only grown over time and now the franchise is set to get a huge expansion. Among the many plans for this world is an upcoming feature-length movie that will kickstart a whole new group of stories and programs around the titular character and the surrounding world. It’s a much-deserved move for a franchise that’s taken on a whole new generation of fans.
This latest news about Avatar: The Last Airbender getting a feature film adaptation is part of a bigger push to significantly expand the franchise on Paramount+, the new iteration of CBS All Access. Along with a film, there will also be an entire studio devoted to the franchise which will begin churning out even more programming. It represents a major investment in both the name, but also the creative team of Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko who produced the original show. They’ll have full control of future stories which should help overall continuity and creativity within the world.
Avatar: The Last Airbender getting a full-length feature film in the mold of the original television program is a long time coming. The show first came out in 2005 and ran for three seasons and 61 episodes on Nickelodeon. It focused on a world in which there are separate nations based on the elements (Water, Fire, Earth, and, of course, Air) with certain people in each group who can control the element. It was a major hit even at the time scoring some of the best ratings ever for its demographic.
A fourth season of Avatar: The Last Airbender never came along because there was a push to pivot the franchise into a live-action movie and series. This came in the form of M. Night Shyamalan’s 2010 film of the same name. Though it doubled its $150 million production budget with $319 million at the box office, it was a massive critical flop scoring a hilariously low 5% on Rotten Tomatoes. The original animated series never came back after that.
But the original creative team came up with Nickelodeon’s Legend of Korra which exists in the Avatar: The Last Airbender world and is a sequel to the latter. It’s been a ratings smash for the network and even reignited a spark for the original show, proving there’s already a built-in audience for a reboot. And since the original show debuted on Netflix, it’s been steadily climbing the charts with a whole group of fans catching on to the magic of the original series.
This led to this latest announcement from Paramount+ during their investor day media push. Proof of concept, new successful programming, and an influx of fans falling in love with the original Avatar: The Last Airbender means we are getting an expanded universe. What a cool time for the show. Production on the movie will begin in earnest, starting up this year.