It's possible that a comeback for the catchphrase "cowabunga" may be on the horizon. The Mirage Group, who owns the rights to the once world-dominating Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, is looking towards reviving it with an all-new live-action feature. The film is set for 2011, and will reportedly be inspired by the more mature-themed original comics.
With the Empire State Building paying tribute to the Turtles tonight with a "Turtle Green" lighting, and a 25th franchise anniversary screening of the first Turtles film at the Tribeca Film Festival (a less pretentious, NY-based film fest that caters to mainstream films), the first rumblings of the true revival of Turtlemania (overlooking 2007's CGI-animated TMNT) are becoming apparent.
Members of the production team from the 2007 animated film will be on board, in addition to co-creator, Peter Laird, and others set to exec produce. Regarding the direction of the film and the way the Turtles themselves will be handled, Legendary Pictures' chief marketing officer (and film producer), Scott Mednick comments:
"The original dozen comics created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman are some of the best source material one could hope for," said Mednick, Laird, who bought out Eastman's share of the property several years ago, said the film will remain true to the spirit of the original comicbooks. He added that the pic may employ face replacement technology, which would allow the turtles to be much more expressive."
I take the fact that the source material will mainly stem from the original comics by Eastman/Laird as extremely encouraging. While they contained the same kind of tougue-in-cheek humor that we saw in the more well-known versions of the characters in the animated series and films, the original comics actually contained a darker, more violent edge that never quite crossed-over into the mainstream, once the Turtles became "kiddie" property. While a great deal of the 1990 film drew significantly from the plot of those comics, it was still watered-down tremendously for its PG rating.
Therein lies the dilemma they will face. If their true intention is to draw from the original comics, then they need to decide how far they are willing to take things. There is no doubt that this revival will be geared towards the children of the 80's and early 90's that grew up with this franchise. Will they expect to see a more mature version of their childhood obsession? It's an important question, since they currently seem to be doing two things at once: Capitalizing on the fuzzy retro memories of young adults, while trying to appeal to children in the hopes of gaining the appeal it once possessed. Frankly, you can't have your cake and eat it, as well. It has to be one or the other.
Take a look at G.I. Joe. They at least seem to have made their choice. With a live-action film that's geared towards mature-themed action (Whether it's good or not remains to be seen.) Also, with the mature themes of new Adult Swim web cartoon, G.I. Joe: Resolute, they've clearly marked their territory with young adults and are running full speed. (I mean, the first episode begins with the Joe's finding the murdered corpse of Major Bludd, and then Bazooka gets killed! After which, they go all CSI on his body. Wow...and knowing is half the battle, right?)