While the fate of a possible sequel to “The Last Airbender” remains in doubt, the small-screen version on which it is based — the Nickelodeon cartoon “Avatar: The Last Airbender” — is getting a second life. MTV News has confirmed that the cable channel is prepping a sequel to its popular anime-inspired series, which ran for three seasons and ended in 2008.
The installment’s working title is “The Legend of Korra,” and it will premiere on Nickelodeon in 2011. The channel will reportedly base “Korra” on the mythology of “Airbender,” in which various nations can control water, fire, earth or air. The new show picks up 70 years after the events of the first series and will follow a teen girl named Korra, a so-called avatar who can control three of the world’s elements and is seeking to master air.
“Her quest leads her to the epicenter of the modern ’Avatar’ world, Republic City — a metropolis that is fueled by Steampunk technology,” a Nickelodeon press release says. “It is a virtual melting pot where benders and non-benders from all nations live and thrive. However, Korra discovers that Republic City is plagued by crime as well as a growing anti-bending revolution that threatens to rip it apart.”
Paramount Pictures (which, like MTV and Nickelodeon, is owned by Viacom) had planned the “Airbender” movie as the first in a trilogy. But though “Airbender” notched a respectable $40 million opening, it has grossed just $135 million worldwide after three weekends. That’s not the sort of box-office haul that screams for a sequel.
So far, the studio hasn’t officially pulled the plug on what it hoped would become an enduring franchise. The studio has maintained the film’s massive sets in hangars around Philadelphia so that a second movie could commence quickly and with less financial burden. And director M. Night Shyamalan is ready for not one but two more installments.
“The third is more ambiguous, but the second one, I’ve written a draft that I’m really happy with and is darker and richer, and it has a wonderful antagonist in it in [Fire Nation princess] Azula, who’s kind of like our only real, pure antagonist in the series, so I’m excited about that,” he told MTV News earlier this month.
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Last Airbender.”