The creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender have decided to leave the Netflix live-action series.
Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who came onboard as showrunners and executive producers in 2018, announced their departure from the series in an open letter to fans, citing a loss of creative direction over the show.
“Many of you have been asking me for updates about the Avatar live-action Netflix series. I can finally tell you that I am no longer involved with the project,” DiMartino wrote.
“In June of this year, after two years of development work, Bryan Konietzko and I made the difficult decision to leave the production.”
He continued: “When Bryan and I signed on to the project in 2018, we were hired as executive producers and showrunners. In a joint announcement for the series, Netflix said that it was committed to honouring our vision for this retelling and to supporting us on creating the series. And we expressed how excited we were for the opportunity to be at the helm. Unfortunately, things did not go as we had hoped.”
The animator said that due to “unforeseen events” arising and “plans [having] to change”, he realised that he “couldn’t control the creative direction of the series”.
“So, I chose to leave the project. It was the hardest professional decision I’ve ever had to make, and certainly not one that I took lightly, but it was necessary for my happiness and creative integrity,” he added.
DiMartino also clarified that his leaving isn’t the end of his involvement in the Avatar universe, but “whatever version ends up on-screen, it will not be what Bryan and [DiMartino] envisioned or intended to make”.
Konietzko released his own statement via Instagram, writing: “Though I got to work with some great individuals, both on Netflix’s side and on our own small development team, the general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and unsupportive environment.”
“To be clear, this was not a simple matter of us not getting our way. Mike and I are collaborative people, we did not need all of the ideas to come from us,” he added. “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.”
The duo created the original animated series of Avatar: The Last Airbender for Nickelodeon in 2005, winning several awards over its five year run.
In 2018, Netflix announced its plans to produce a live-action reboot of the series, which follows 12-year-old Avatar Aang, the only being able to manipulate all four natural elements, as he journeys to defeat the Fire Nation.
RadioTimes.com understands that the Netflix series is still going ahead with the live action series, with a spokesperson commenting: “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.”
Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series is available to stream on Netflix. You can check out the best series on Netflix, best movies on Netflix or visit out TV Guide for more to watch.