A new rumor claims to provide details on why Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko left Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the animated series.
DiMartino previously shared an open letter to Avatar: The Last Airbender fans on his website announcing that he and Konietzko were exiting in the project.
In the letter, DiMartino implied that there was a conflict of visions between them and Netflix.
He wrote, “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 honoring 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.”
Without providing any specifics he then stated, “Look, things happen. Productions are challenging. Unforeseen events arise. Plans have to change.”
He added, “And when those things have happened at other points during my career, I try to be like an Air Nomad and adapt. I do my best to go with the flow, no matter what obstacle is put in my way. But even an Air Nomad knows when it’s time to cut their losses and move on.”
He then explained he had lost control of the creative direction of the series, “I also sought wisdom from Stoic philosophers who were big on differentiating between what is within our control and what isn’t. I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded.”
Without control he stated he chose to leave the project, “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.”
Konietzko issued his own statement on Instagram.
He wrote, “When Netflix brought me on board to run this 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.”
He continued, “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.”
Konietzko elaborated, “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. 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,” he added.
Later in the statement Konietzko wrote, “Perhaps the team that remains might still be able to make something fans of the original and an entirely new audience can enjoy.”
Accompany the Instagram post, Konietzko added some further thoughts writing, “I wish I could explain things in greater detail, but the above statement is really all I can say about the matter so I won’t be answering any of those.”
View this post on Instagram
Well, friends… there you have it. Big sigh. 💔⬇️💔 I’m sure many of you will understandably want to know more and will ask me questions in the comments, here and on subsequent posts and live-streams and in-person encounters and everywhere else ad infinitum. I wish I could explain things in greater detail, but the above statement is really all I can say about the matter so I won’t be answering any of those. I encourage you to head over to my partner Michael DiMartino’s account to get his take on our departure too: @mike_dante_d Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of the Avatar: The Last Airbender fans, and I’m sorry our involvement in the live-action project did not work out. Time to get on with my life. Onward and upward. 💙 Love, Bryan #avatarthelastairbender #cocreators #michaeldimatino #bryankonietzko #bryke #atla #liveactionseries #netflix
Netflix released their own statement to The Verge, “We have complete respect and admiration for Michael and Bryan and the story that they created in the Avatar animated series. Although they have chosen to depart the live action project, we are confident in the creative team and their adaptation.”
Now, a new rumor from FandomWire claims to provide further details as to why they left the project.
Claiming to have gotten information from “multiple sources inside Netflix and the upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender series,” FandomWire notes that DiMartino and Konietzko wanted a bigger budget.
FandomWire reports, “Filmmakers always wanted more money to properly build their vision, but Netflix felt it was already spending as much as they believed they needed to pull off the series they wanted.”
They also detail that DiMartino and Konietzko did not want to cast any white actors in the series. FandomWire claims, “Netflix also wanted the ability to consider some white actors for the series. This was a non-starter for the creators, who were insistent that not a single white actor be on the series.”
FandomWire added, “We are told that casting decisions are still early on, and that Netflix merely wanted the option to audition with an open net of all nationalities, including white actors, but the creators refused.”
DiMartino and Konietzko had previously released a statement about the cast stating, “We can’t wait to realize Aang’s world as cinematically as we always imagined it to be, and with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast.”
FandomWire goes on to claim that the biggest issue was the tone of the show. They detail, “Netflix currently wants to age up Aang, Zuko, Katara and Sokka. They also want to separate the live-action series from the animated one by creating a darker, mature tone with more romance, sex, and blood.”
Konietzko and DiMartino reportedly disagreed with this vision and wanted the show to still be aimed at kids.
What do you make of this rumor? Do you believe it?