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Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender Production Change

Original creators leave Netflix live-action adaptation

Earlier this week, original creators of the animated show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, announced their decision to leave Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the series due to significant creative differences. Both creators, Michael Dante Dimartino and Bryan Konietzo released public statements on their social media explaining their decision.

In their posts, they had actually announced that they left the Netflix project in June after working on the project for two years. Dimartino and Konietzo had signed onto the project in 2018 as executive producers and showrunners.

Mike Dante Dimartino’s statement

Dimartino wrote, “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. We expressed how excited we were for the opportunity to be at the helm. Unfortunately, things did not go as we had hoped.”

Dimartino explained that he realized although he could not control the creative direction of the project, he could choose how he reacted to it. So he continued, “So I chose to leave the project.” He expressed that this was one of the hardest professional decisions he had to make and told readers that the Netflix adaptation still has the potential to be good but reasserted that whatever the product becomes, it will not be what Mike and Bryan envisioned.

Bryan Konietzo’s statement

Bryan Konietzko was more critical of Netflix in his statement. He wrote, “When Netflix brought me on board to run the series alongside Mike two years ago, they made a very public promise to support our vision. Unfortunately, there was no follow-through on that promise” accusing Netflix of a “negative and unsupportive environment”.

Konietzko clarified, “To be clear, this was not a simple matter of us not getting our way.” He added, “Mike and I are collaborative people, we did not need all the ideas to come from us. As long as we felt those ideas were in line with the spirit and integrity of Avatar, we would have happily embraced them. However, we ultimately came to the belief that we would not be able to meaningfully guide the direction of the series.”

Netflix issues statement in response to Mike and Bryan’s departure

Following the two creators’ announcement of their departure from the Netflix live-action adaptation of the animated series, Netflix also put out a statement to address this departure. The Netflix spokesperson wrote, “We have complete respect and admiration for Michael and Bryan and the story that they created in the Avatar animated series.” They added, “Although they have chosen to depart the live-action project, we are confident in the creative team and their adaptation.”

Why fans are upset

The original animated series and its sequel, The Legend of Korra, is beloved by many fans around the world. The franchise’s popularity only continued to grow after the series had ended. There has been a resurgence and even new audiences after both series were added to Netflix recently.

Fans have little faith in any product of the franchise that deviates from the creators’ visions. This is due to the infamous failure of a live-action film for the animated series called The Last Airbender. The film won five Razzies and has a 5 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Thus, fans fear that, since the falling out between Netflix and Mike and Bryan seemed similar to the infamous film, the highly anticipated live-action adaptation series will also be a failure.

There is still hope

Despite the bad news that the departure of Mike and Bryan indicates, there may still be hope for fans of the avatar franchise. In his post Dimartino promised that this would not be the end of their involvement with the franchise at large, hinting at future content for the franchise.

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