Friday, August 20, 2010

Iron Man writers brought in by Paramount and Platinum Dunes to write Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, coming in 2012.

Amusingly, Nikki Finke reported this news by exclaiming "(Paramount) is looking at (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as its next huge franchise, like Transformers, a source told me." That's shocking news, as I thought Nickelodeon paid $60 million for the property last October so they could make a low-budget mumblecore. "Cow... a, um... well, bunga?" Anyway, snark aside, writers Matt Holloway and Art Marcum have been brought on board by Platinum Dunes to revamp the 26-year old comic book franchise. Amusingly enough, these are two of the four writers who were NOT brought along to write Jon Favreau's upcoming Cowboys Vs. Aliens. These two instead followed up their Iron Man script with Punisher: War Zone, which is not a promising sign (did no one notice that, had Frank Castle just stayed in bed, every single bad guy would have arrested on capital charges within 48 hours anyway?). On the other hand, they are currently developing a Justin Lin-directed reboot of Highlander for Summit Entertainment, which is the rare 80s geek property that could actually use a makeover (five movies, a cartoon series, a six-year television series, an ongoing comic book or two, and the TV series was the only thing close to being good).

I'm not sure what Paramount has in mind here. Since the turtles are now owned by Nickelodeon, I'm guessing they don't want to make the new film too dark and/or violent, and the first film was a pretty faithful adaption of the tough and brutal initial comic series anyway. On the other hand, the overgrown kids who worshiped the heroes in a half-shell back in the late 80s/early 90s (shamefully raises hand...) would be aghast if the property were turned into something that could air alongside Dora the Explorer (although the crossover potential with Wonder Pets is not to be discounted). On the plus side, something similar in tone to the animated Avatar: The Last Airbender (very serious storytelling, but plenty of comic relief and a low body count) would work well with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Frankly, I'd like just once to see Shredder actually use those spikes he has all over his body to actually shred someone...

We'll know more of what's in mind once a director gets attached and/or they start casting, which should be soon as the studio wants a first draft by October. Two points worth making: 1) The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film is still one of the best comic book superhero films ever made (at least in Germany, they have a decent Blu Ray with the fabled extended ending). 2) The groundbreaking 1989 arcade game is still one of the very best arcade action games ever, and every bit as pioneering to the industry as Street Fighter II just two years later. Turtle power indeed!

Scott Mendelson


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