It looks like Paramount Pictures and Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes can’t figure out when to release their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. The movie studio pushed the release date back for the fourth time since the film was first announced in 2012. The heroes-in-a-half-shell have been bumped from their June 6, 2014 slot in favor of a new date, two months later on August 8, 2014.
According to reports, the change has nothing to do with production, but rather to give Michael Bay’s Transformers 4 more time to gather a higher box office gross for the studio. Transformers 4 comes June 27, 2014, and will now most likely move up two days earlier to June 25th. It feels like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a movie that no one wants (even the fans), and everything surrounding the reboot is just terrible.
When Paramount and Bay first announced the project, fans were very vocal when they heard about some of the planned changes. The film was originally going to feature space alien turtles rather than mutant turtles, it was going to be a tongue-n-cheek pop culture-heavy comedy, and was simply called Ninja Turtles. Since that initial announcement, production stopped, and its release date was pushed back the first time, from December 2013 to March 2014.
When pre-production ramped up again, there was more explaining to do once the screenplay leaked. The new film was compared to a space opera, with cosmic elements, including Dimension X, a villain named Colonel Schrader instead of The Shredder, and a teenage love story with a young April O’Neil and her hockey-player boyfriend, Casey Jones. Changes were made to make the reboot fall in line with the comic books and film, but the damage was done, and all but the most optimistic fans lost any enthusiasm for the new TMNT. Paramount then moved its release date again, from March 2014 to May 16, 2014.
Then a casting controversy arose when Megan Fox won the role of April O’Neil. Comic book co-creator Peter Laird said, “I think it is safe to say that there are probably hundreds of better choices for the role of April O’Neil. Of course, her name has promotional value, and maybe that’s what they want.” Laird’s former partner, Kevin Eastman, defended the choice by saying, “[Platinum Dunes’] main goal is actually to make the best possible Turtles movie with respect to the fans and the core audience as possible.” Which doesn’t sound like much of a defense.
As production started in April in New York City, positive buzz trickled out when a few movie bloggers got a chance to visit the set. For the first time there was a glimmer of hope that the new film might not be terrible. But yet another casting controversy boiled up when William Fichtner was cast to play the film’s villain, Shredder. In every iteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Shredder, and his alter ego Oroku Saki, are Japanese. Fichtner is obviously white, so this led to numerous cries of whitewashing.
At this point, there has been much more bad news surrounding Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles than good. Keep in mind, no one has seen the final version of the film, so there’s a chance that it might be something worth watching. Eastman called the film a mix between Marvel’s The Avengers and martial arts extravaganza The Raid: Redemption. This sounds like a good pairing to me, but we will certainly see when the movie is (if ever) released.
In addition to Fox and Fichtner, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles also stars Alan Ritchson as Raphael, Jeremy Howard as Donatello, Pete Ploszek as Leonardo, Noel Fisher as Michelangelo, Will Arnett as Vernon Fenwick, and Danny Woodburn as Master Splinter. Screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) wrote the script, and Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) is directing.