Michael Bay’s ‘Ninja Turtles’ movie halted indefinitely

Will Perkins
Wide ScreenJune 18, 2012

Radical! Everyone's favourite butt-kicking adolescent reptiles, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, won't have their good names dragged through the mud by producer Michael Bay quite yet. Over the weekend, THR reported that the Bay-produced reboot of the franchise, titled simply "Ninja Turtles," was being shelved by the Studios at Paramount indefinitely.

Citing problems with the script, Paramount halted preproduction of the film, which was already well under way in Vancouver. According to sources, Paramount has "temporarily" laid off "Ninja Turtles" production staff and pushed back the release date of the film from holiday 2013 to spring 2014. Despite the delays, director Jonathan Liebesman ("Battle Los Angeles") remains attached to the project.

While it's unfortunate that Canadian film workers have lost their jobs as a result (at least for now), it's also fair to say that this might be for the best. Longtime "TMNT" fans were not enthused by Bay's vision of the pizza-eating quartet. At an industry conference in May, Bay laid out his version of the film, which inexplicably included giving the turtles an extraterrestrial origin story.

"These turtles are from an alien race, and they're going to be tough, edgy, funny, and completely loveable," Bay told assembled filmmakers and producers. It all sounded stupidly similar to the origin story found in Bay's other '80s franchise adaptation, "Transformers," but at least the giant space robots' origin made a little more sense.

Bay's turtles might be "edgy" and "loveable," but their alien origin would technically make the characters neither turtles, mutants, nor ninjutsu masters -- hence the simplified title "Ninja Turtles." The changes seemed more than a tad unnecessary, and "TMNT" fans, having seen what Bay did with "Transformers," were right to be up in arms about it.

"Ninja Turtles" is the third major film that Paramount has pushed back this year, the other two being "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" (also based on an 1980s kids cartoon and toy line) and the Brad Pitt-produced "World War Z." Script difficulties seem to be a growing problem for Paramount, which has also cited screenplay problems as the reason behind those other delays. Perhaps studio heads are finally realizing that when you're making a $100 million-plus movie, it's a good idea to have a solid and approved script for the movie in place first.

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