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Cautiously Optimistic

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Reboot Has Found a Director

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.

(Variety via AICN, /Film)

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  • mea.glitch

    RE: The 2007 Movie
    you forgot to mention Patrick Stewart is one of the main voices. 

  • Jinxy Blastwave

    When the first one came out, it was decided that I was too young to see it.  The second one though… my god I nearly played that tape til it broke.  The pizza guy figuring out the secret?  Him and Raphael going rogue to infiltrate the Foot Clan?  Ooze, giant sunflowers, corporate corruption?  Everyone eating pizza nonstop like it’s the only food available in the city?  I loved the hell out of that movie.  Even the Vanilla Ice part.  Ninja Rap was a huge hit at my house.

  • Rachel Smith

    Great, now the urge to go re-watch the other TMNT movies is high, when I should be doing homework… aaaah! <3  But you are forgetting TMNT III that was released in 1993.  That one was WAY better than the 2nd one… Time travel anyone??

  • Karen Gulledge

    I remember seeing the original movie in theatres and excitedly going to see them in concert (and subsequently fangirling properly when I claimed Leo looked at me and waved; he did, though!) and even enjoying the two sequels. The Turtles remain an important part of my life (Leo in particular) and I credit them a lot to being able to stand up to bullies in grade school. If they go through with the reboot with animatronic suits like the original, I’ll be a happy kitty. I’m still insistent that CG isn’t quite what it could be yet (get a crap effects company and it’ll look awful; it all depends on who does it). Perhaps they should employ the same company who did the animatronics and suits for movies like Pan’s Labryinth and Underworld. THOSE would be awesome!

  • Eric Stettmeier

    The first TMNT movie is great and still stand up to this day (just re-watched it last weekend.) The 2007 CGI film was pretty good too and should be seen by any turtles fan.

  • Anonymous
  • Adam Whitley

    I’m keeping my expectations low for this. Nothing is gonna top turtles forever anyway.

  • Laura whisman

    *sigh*  I’m actually not really for the computer animation…. I’d like to see them do something crafty with all live stuff…. Unless we get all…Avatar up in this joint on the movie…

  • Emily Hill

    that would have been a cool crossover GB and TMNT Teaming up to fight ghosties and mutant animals

  • Wesley Hampton

    I have a friend who runs a blog, and every Thursday she does Nerd News, a sort of bullet point nerdy news update. A good portion of her movie posts link to articles on this site so I’ve read quite a few things on here in the past and I generally like the site. That being said I think I may be a little in love with you after reading this. I’ve read a lot of TMNT related news posts, but it’s rare to find one approaching my level of excitement. I don’t know if you’re a gamer, but there’s a rumor going around that the company that did Batman: Arkham Asylum & Arkham City might be doing a TMNT game next. I almost hyperventilated reading that news (because that would be THE BEST GAME EVER!). Anyway, you basically summed up my feelings on this movie that has been too long in the works. And you should check out the 2007 CGI movie. I liked it, but I’m the kind of fan that just loves it all and goes along for whatever ride they want to take me on.

    Also, I do this blog that may interest you. It’s quite stupid, but I have fun with it. It’s currently on hiatus until probably two weeks from now or so, but it will be back up and running shortly.