A few years ago, when Nickelodeon bought the rights to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they placed a new feature film in the hands of Platinum Dunes (a studio which, at the time, had only made low-brow -- low-budget, rather -- remakes of horror films). That studio is co-owned by none other than Michael Bay. Businesswise, this makes perfect sense. Give the guy who reinvograted Transformers in pop culture the four pizza-loving ninjutsu practitioners from 1984 (interestingly, both Transformers and TMNT were created in '84). But Michael Bay is not one of the world's most likable filmmakers; in fact, he's among McG, M. Night Shyamalan, and Brett Ratner as one of Hollywood's most vile filmmakers. Bay has positioned himself in the film's production solely as producer, with Jonathan Liebesman (Platnum Dunes' The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Battle: Los Angeles, upcoming Wrath of the Titans) attached as director.
Until a few days ago, Bay was expected to keep silent and let Liebesman do his job as director once he finished promoting Wrath of the Titans. Of course, it's completely impossibly for Bay to accomplish this task and spoke out at a Nickelodeon event about the film.
When you see this movie, kids are going to believe, one day, that these turtles actually do exist when we are done with this movie. These turtles are from an alien race and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely lovable.
Fans were stunned and outraged. Nothing about the Turtles' origins involves anything to do with aliens. It got even worse when FirstShowing reported that sources close to the project indicated that the Turtles would now be "inter-dimensional beings." Now where have I seen that before...? Gosh... I'm trying to remember...?
Bay, who is used to fans' insults and death threats, went to his forums to respond to the whole mess. He wrote:
Fans need to take a breath, and chill. They have not read the script. Our team is working closely with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles to help expand and give a more complex back story. Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place. We are just building a richer world.
The creator he's most likely referring to is Peter Laird, because in 2008 (after several years of separation), Laird bought out co-creator Kevin Eastman's share in the ownership of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Interestingly, Eastman and Laird did participate in a 2009 animated film Turtles Forever in a small off-screen cameo appearance. One of the original voice actors from the live-action series of Turtles films, Robbie Rist (who played Michelangelo), has sent a letter to Bay making clear his disdain. "You probably don't know me but I did some voice work on the first set of movies that you are starting to talk about sodomizing... I know believing in mutated talking turtles is kinda silly to begin with but am I supposed to be led to believe there are ninjas from another planet?"
It's fair to say fans of any established property will never be completely satisfied by any reinterpretation of said property. With Michael Bay comes trouble, that's obvious. But Liebesman, the director, has so far said nothing in response to Bay's comments. I'm sure this will change in a matter of days (upon the impending release of Wrath of the Titans). Even so, it's a long way to December 2013 and fans' opinions have a lot more clout in this day and age than they used to. Can things change? It's not impossible but there is little hope. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been around for almost 30 years, with many different iterations. If this new one fails, they'll be back. They always have.
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