Paramount has had mixed results with its recent attempts to bring the TMNT franchise to live action. Two Michael Bay produced entries, 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (directed by Jonathan Liebesman) was a solid enough financial success to warrant a sequel, the far, far better Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows in 2016. The latter film, directed by Earth to Echo‘s Dave Green, while no masterpiece, certainly captured the spirit of the classic comics and cartoons more than the first movie in the franchise. Neither the reviews nor the box office were particularly exciting, though, and there hasn’t been any word on the movie franchise in two years.
But Paramount knows they’re sitting on a bunch of exploitable franchises right now. They’re not done with GI Joe, despite a long quiet period on that franchise. This December will see the release of Bumblebee, a scaled down entry in the Transformers movie that looks like it might actually have something resembling a soul. And the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are too cool to discard like bad pizza.
To that end, they’ve just hired Andrew Dodge (writer of Bad Words) to develop a new TMNT screenplay. The Hollywood Reporter says they’re “hoping to bring a patina of quality to the franchise.”
Additionally, I can confirm that this is NOT Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3, but rather a fresh start for the franchise.
In some ways, it’s good news that it’s a reboot. The heavy, lumbering designs of the CG Turtles always seemed a little much, and the first movie mangled the lore to such a degree that the second film just went ahead and swept much of it under the rug. On the other hand, I rather liked the voice cast and particularly enjoyed Stephen Amell as Casey Jones, and that second movie seemed to be moving things in the right direction.
Hopefully a new film doesn’t get too caught up in the origins of the Turtles. This would be the 3rd live action telling of that story in the last 30 years (plus multiple animated ones). They could do a lot worse than look to the current run of comics from IDW Publishing, though. Those have perfectly distilled everything great about the TMNT franchise over the years, from the various animated series to the comics and beyond.
Good luck topping the 1990 movie, though. But that’s just me. We’ll update this with more information as it becomes available.