Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans emitted cries of "Excellent!" following the initial announcement that Platinum Dunes' Ninja Turtles reboot (or should it be called Ninja Aliens?) is on hold indefinitely, thanks to Paramount's concerns over the script. The feeling of victory quickly dissipated, once later reports confirmed the live-action project has simply been pushed back to May 2014.
TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman is collaborating on Ninja Turtles with producer Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans), as well as writers Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol). Eastman is operating in damage control mode, putting forth an upbeat outlook in the aftermath of Bay's not-so-successful attempts to assuage fan outrage.
Eastman is writing and drawing a full-length TMNT comic story for the first time, as will be featured in the upcoming "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Annual 2012" this October. He offered CBR an update on the developing Ninja Turtles live-action reboot, while discussing the impending comic publication, saying:
"I talked to [producer] Scott Mednick yesterday, and he's seen the most recent 50 [script] pages and said it's as good as the last version -- they've really knocked it out of the park. I've seen a chunk of it, and it's going to be a great movie, despite what everybody thinks."
Well, that'll surely quell upset fans, right? Moving on...
The production start date for Ninja Turtles had reportedly been delayed by some 10 weeks, resulting in the more drastic release date reshuffling. Initial claims of substantial script rewrites being the cause have been dismissed, with the new explanation being that Paramount wants the budget trimmed to $125 million (it was approaching $150 million). Eastman (sorta) contradicts that idea, saying:
"Essentially they pushed it back for two reasons: One is the director, Jonathan Liebesman, wanted to make sure he could do the effects to the level he wants them at, and the fight scenes to the way they should be. Also, their release date is almost exactly on the 30th [TMNT] anniversary. May 5, 1984 is when the first Turtles comic came out. May 16, 2014, is almost exactly 30 years after. So basically it's an anniversary movie now."
Ninja Turtles is shaping up to utilize motion-capture effects to bring the Turtles to life, combining flesh-and-blood humans with CGI reptilian martial artists - in a fashion similar to the mix of actual people and digitally-rendered character in such films as Avatar and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. That's to say: it's conceivable the project's effects are more demanding than anticipated (also part of the reason why Avatar 2 isn't arriving until 2015).
Some readers may recall that Ninja Turtles was originally set to be a Christmas release in 2013, some three months before the delay. When you put the pieces together (and read between the lines), the implication is Paramount has decided to take advantage of the 30th anniversary occasion after pushing back the date, for whatever reason, be it script rewrites, budget changes, effects development, or a combination of the three.
Lastly, Eastman clarified his role in the Ninja Turtles creative process, while also reiterating his promise that the reboot will satisfy the skeptical TMNT fanbase:
"[I'm doing] sketches, drawings and character designs, bouncing stuff around with the writers, talking with the director and the producers -- I'm actively involved... [What] they're doing with the movie is creating its own story, but it has to be true to the source material or we'll get f***ing murdered. To be blunt."
Bear in mind: we still know very little about Ninja Turtles, other than it tweaks the Turtles' backstory so they're now extraterrestrials (not to mention, rumors of more familiar sci-fi elements). That means it's best to wait and learn more about exactly where all this is going - BEFORE writing off the entire endeavor, that is.
Ninja Turtles opens in U.S. theaters on May 16th, 2014.
Source: Comic Book Resources