I didn’t hate Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles nearly as much as a lot of people did. I won’t go so far as to call it a good movie, there is far too much Megan Fox as April O’Neil for that to happen, but even though they’re weird looking, the actual Turtles captured the feel and spirit of the original characters. Out of many complaints, the lack of screen time for the titular heroes is by far the biggest, something that, hopefully, the upcoming sequel will address. And speaking of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, the film added a surprising piece, naming David Green as director.
Released back in August, TMNT had a massive opening weekend, actually unseating Marvel’s juggernaut Guardians of the Galaxy at the box office. The rousing success astonished some, and Paramount Pictures wasted no time in green lighting a sequel. In the wake of this announcement, there was a ton of talk about the future of the franchise, possible characters (Rocksteady and Bebop) and storylines (Dimension X), that sort of thing. Much of this came from, or at least involved, director Jonathan Liebesman, and even though it wasn’t official, it sounded like he was going to be back for the second go round, which is why the Green report from Variety is something of a surprise.
Green only has one feature under his belt, last summer’s kid-centric sci-fi joint Earth to Echo. The found footage film, that falls somewhere in the range of Goonies and E.T. tonally, grossed $45 million worldwide (with a $13 million budget), hardly a hit, but his work must have caught someone’s eye.
Looking to capitalize on the popularity of the first film, which brought in $477 million worldwide, Paramount has already scheduled TMNT 2 for June 3, 2016. Such a short turnaround left Liebesman unable to return to the director’s chair, as he is working on an adaptation of Terry Brooks’ Shannara books as a ten-part event series for MTV. Though he’s busy, it is still possible that Liebesman may be back in some capacity, possibly producing or working on the script.
This is a big step up in scale and ambition for Green, but it fits in with the trend of young directors using their first features to show that they can do a lot with limited resources, and spring boarding to large scale studio projects. Gareth Edwards used his no-budget creature feature Monsters to land the Godzilla job, and Josh Trank’s modest superhero flick Chronicle got him the Fantastic Four job. Hell, both of them landed gigs directing standalone Star Wars films, maybe Green will follow their lead even further.
There are no details about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 yet, but Fox and costar Will Arnett are expected to return and reprise their roles and April O’Neil and Vernon Fenwick. Hopefully the sequel will focus more on the Heroes in a Halfshell and less on their human counterparts. There’s definite room for improvement.