When ViacomCBS announced it had big plans for Avatar: The Last Airbender once more — establishing an entire studio dedicated to future projects that drew back original Avatar creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko from Netflix’s own remake plans — we knew the franchise would be going to some bold new places. Now we know one of those steps is bringing Avatar into the realm of CG animation.
Speaking with Dometi Pongo about the company’s future streaming plans for children and family-focused media, President and CEO of Nickelodeon Brian Robbins — who now also acts as Paramount+’s chief content officer for kids and family programming on the streamer — touched on the development of Avatar Studios. He hyped up the team’s current projects while revealing something very interesting. “One of the other big projects that we’re working on, on the theatrical front is Avatar. We signed a deal to bring the original creators of Avatar back into the studios,” Robbins said. “They started Avatar Studios, and they’re well on their way in development on a series of CG films and a new Avatar series.”
When Avatar Studios was announced, we knew the team was developing both series and movies in the world of Aang and Korra’s bending adventures, but this is the first specific mention that some of these first projects will bring the franchise into the realm of CG animation. No doubt this is going to raise hackles in some fans longing for any new Avatar to be done just as old Avatar was: as 2D animated series. It’s worth bearing in mind that we have not seen an iota of these movies yet — so simply writing them off entirely just for using CG would be very silly. Also, Robbins very specifically said that a series of movies would be CG, alongside a new Avatar show, a distinction with enough leeway to suggest that not every project the studio puts out will be CG, so you might just get the 2D continuation you want anyway. You might get a CG show, or a 2D movie, down the line! It’s not like they’re suddenly going to stop after this first wave of projects.
But in a world where CG animated movies are better looking than ever, it always feels a bit weird to get apprehensive at the announcement that a traditionally 2D franchise will explore it as a medium in the first place. If there’s a series as deserving of a colourful, kinetic CG film in the vein of a Spider-Verse or a Mitchells vs. the Machines, it’s definitely Avatar. Now we just have to wait and see what Avatar Studios and ViacomCBS will do with it.