Paramount slowed development on Ninja Turtles a couple months ago, with initial Hollywood trade reports pointing to studio heads' disapproval of the script, and the proposed budget ($125 million and growing). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman thereafter announced the delay was really meant to allow proper time for motion-capture effects work on the film, as well as to take advantage of the TMNT franchise's 30th anniversary in 2014.
A Turtles fansite claims to have gotten their hands on Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec's (rumored) offending script draft for Ninja Turtles. If this screenplay is indeed legit - and that's a BIG if, for the time being - then it seems TMNT fans' worst fears have been confirmed.
Here are some of the more egregious details revealed therein:
- The script includes a character named Colonel Schrader, the head of a secret military operation run by an army nicknamed "The Foot" (get it?).
- Casey Jones and April O'Neil are now dating and in high-school. The two have reached a crossroads, as Casey is an unambitious slacker, while April is becoming an intern for CBS. Casey is also described as being the protagonist of the film - not the turtles.
- The Turtles crack a variety of "updated" pop-culture jokes, making references to Kermit the Frog, cellphones, and the Kung Fu Panda movies (among other things).
- Casey and the Turtles eventually travel to Dimension X, where the four reptilian warriors discover they are members of a Turtle-like extraterrestrial race (and not mutants, as they previously believed).
Essentially, the gist of the review is that the Ninja Turtles script commits virtually all the same missteps as producer Michael Bay's Transformers movies - such as, featuring loads of inane juvenile humor, reducing the female lead to nagging eye candy, making the title characters secondary players behind an uninteresting human protagonist, and creating a half-baked new franchise mythology.
For the full breakdown, head over to TMNT, NOT TANT.
Now, with that said: the similarities between Ninja Turtles and Bay's Transformers are so overt as to prompt skepticism about the script's authenticity. Moreover, the screenplay excerpts read more like what an angry fan imagines a script for one of Bay's movies is like - as opposed to a draft penned by Appelbaum and Nemec, whose writing credits include the well-respected Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, as well as multiple episodes on shows like Alias and Life on Mars.
So why report this at all? Well, the author of the Ninja Turtles script review claims they took the whole version down after receiving a Cease and Desist order from a legal firm that represents Paramount (check out the letter here). Such an order would indeed suggest the draft was legitimate - but, of course, that's assuming it wasn't fabricated by some outside party. Hence, it's best to not assume anything is a given until more official details have been released.
On the other hand - if the Ninja Turtles trailer suggests this film is Transformers all over again (in the worse sense possible), well... we were warned.
Ninja Turtles opens in U.S. theaters on May 16th, 2014.
"TMNT" Header Artwork by nebezial on deviantART