Platinum Dunes' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is set to hit theaters on August 8th - following months of controversy and tense debate between fans who are intrigued by the reboot and those who feel producer Michael Bay is poised to ruin childhood nostalgia. Of course, Bay is only serving as a producer on the film - with Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles and Wrath of the Titans) sitting in the actual director's chair.
While many longtime fans of the Heroes in a Half-Shell remain skeptical, following a series of contentious casting choices (especially Megan Fox as April O'Neil) and confusion over whether the Ninja Turtles would also be Mutant Teenagers, lately the filmmakers have managed to gain some traction - even with skeptics. The latest trailers suggest that the film may actually capture the fun-loving spirit of the cartoon series (with a visual aesthetic that borrows from the original printed material) - and our own sneak peek preview of action-packed TMNT footage indicated that, once the movie is out, viewers might be pleasantly surprised.
The partnership between Bay and Paramount Pictures has resulted in over $3.5 billion in box office revenues for the Transformers series, so it's not a complete stretch to imagine that Liebesman's TMNT reboot stands a good chance of turning a significant profit. Even if the film were to fall flat in the United States, kid-friendly, action-packed, sci-fi fantasy performs strong at the international box office - meaning that, whether you are onboard with this new Ninja Turtles film or not, sequels are highly likely.
So what might the studio have planned for future installments? In our TMNT trailer analysis we pointed out several easter eggs that could hint at future story lines (especially the name drop of TCRI) and during our chat with Liebesman and producer Andrew Form at San Diego Comic-Con 2014, the pair teased other characters that could join the franchise for a sequel.
Liebesman and Form were tight-lipped about the exact plan for a TMNT sequel, understandably they are focused on releasing the current film, but did mention that there are a handful of characters they would have loved to include in this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie - characters that they are still interesting in adding down the line.
Specifically, Liebesman name-dropped heroic human vigilante (and potential April love-interest) Casey Jones while Form says they also love fan-favorite henchmen turned mutants Bebop (a humanoid Warthog) and Rocksteady (a humanoid Rhinoceros). At this point, it's unclear whether any of the characters are already planned for a sequel but Form indicated that Platinum Dunes would like to utilize existing franchise characters - should they get the chance to make further live-action TMNT movies.
Check out a portion of the exchange below - in response to a question we asked regarding story threads that could be explored in future installments:
Form: We're just finishing the movie but we all wish that we could put everything into the movie. We all have other characters that we wish we could have had in this movie.
Liebesman: Casey Jones.
Form: Casey Jones. Bebop and Rocksteady. We had those conversations throughout development of this movie but we're launching this movie now in two weeks. Hopefully everybody feels the same way we do [about it]. We love them [Bebop and Rocksteady].
For those still rolling their eyes at this new TMNT origin story (and the subsequent footage), the news that Bay's production company is interested in exploring beloved characters like Bebop, Rocksteady, and Casey Jones will probably be yet another frustrated talking point.
That said, Turtle fans (both old and new) that are open to Liebesman's reboot should have some reason to be excited. After all, while Casey Jones was included in Steve Barron's 1990 film (played by Elias Koteas), Bebop and Rocksteady have yet to make their live-action feature film debut - despite being two of the franchise's most iconic baddies. In addition to the prospect of mutant-on-mutant combat (evolving the Turtles vs. humans set pieces in this film), the characters would also be an easy next step in the reboot's core storyline - which reportedly sees the creation of the turtles as a byproduct of super-soldier experimentation. Once the Turtles save the day in this movie, it only makes sense that Shredder would use the same technology to create mutant villains.
For now, we can only speculate what the filmmakers have discussed behind closed doors - and, before anyone gets too worked-up, Platinum Dunes still needs to find success with this first chapter in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will open in theaters on August 8th, 2014.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.
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