Unbeknownst to many, there has been a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot in the works for the big screen. There aren’t too many details about the story, but we do know it’s live-action. We also know it’s been looking for a director. Today, Variety reports that Paramount has finally found one: Jonathan Liebesman, who directed Battle: Los Angeles.
Guys, this story is very important to me. You have no idea.
Liebesman, who also directed Wrath of the Titans (sequel to Clash of the Titans), will direct the script being written by Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, who both worked on the recent Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Paramount is producing, along with Platinum Dunes, which is Michael Bay‘s company. So let’s just hope he isn’t all that involved. I do not want my Turtles to explode or say the words “my bad.” But according to /Film, this might mean a grittier, darker take on TMNT, and I can’t say I’d be sad to see that.
The last time we saw a live-action version of TMNT was 1993, when the movie franchise’s second sequel was released and quickly forgotten. Another sequel followed in 2007, TMNT, but it was computer-animated, not live-action. You would not believe the voice cast for that one: Chris Evans as Casey Jones, Sarah Michelle Gellar as April O’Neill, plus Zhyang Zhi, John DiMaggio, Frank Welker, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Lawrence Fishburne as the narrator. I have no idea why I’ve never made an effort to see this movie. Not a clue.
What’s interesting about the TMNT live-action franchise is that the first movie was a very low-budget production — $13.5 million. When it hit theaters in 1990, critics were very mixed, but it was a huge hit with fans. It became the highest grossing independent movie at the time and was the ninth biggest moneymaker at the box office that year. It was also one the last films that Jim Henson worked on before his sudden death that same year. (The sequel, released in 1991, still employed Jim Henson’s Creature Shop for its animatronics and was the second film to memorialize Henson; the first was A Muppet Christmas Carol.) Henson had apparently said that his work on TMNT was some of the most advanced work of his career.
And now, with everything in Hollywood that has happened in over 20 years of technological development in special effects, there will be more live-action turtles requiring more realistic-looking magic. One rumor going around is that the Turtles will be computer animated and incorporated into live-action footage, similar to Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Pirates of the Carribbean. And when you think about how amazing those beasties looked when featured with human actors, it’s hard (for me, at least) not to get excited about seeing some awesome-looking Ninja Turtles in the movies again.
Because here’s the deal: TMNT was one of my first loves as a kid. One summer, probably the summer after the second movie was released on Video Tape, I vowed to watch the first and seconds movies every single day. That mission may have lasted a week, but the thought had actually crossed my mind to do that. Because I loved Raphael. Because he said “Damn,” and I like bad boys, and “damn” was very shocking for a sheltered adolescent. I had action figures — from the cartoon and the movies. And the movie ones lived in my dollhouse. (They were even the right scale.) We also had a Ghostbusters HQ playset, and guess what? Crossover!
So, as you can imagine, I am pretty excited about this. Don’t take it away from me. I will bury a sai in the kitchen table as a display of my strength.