Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made a big impression on Seth Rogen at a very early age. “The animated series came out in 1987, when I was five. The first movie came out in 1990, when I was eight,” he says. “It was perfectly geared toward someone my age and I loved it. They were funny. They were referential. I started taking karate probably because of the Turtles. I was just kind of obsessed.”
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So when Brian Robbins, President and CEO of Paramount and Nickelodeon, called Rogen to ask him if he’d like to discuss making a new Turtles movie, Rogen already knew exactly what he wanted to do.
“It’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” Rogen says. “Of all those words, the teenage part was the most under-explored, and the most interesting to me.” And that is how Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem began. Rogen saw in it a Turtles movie made with a genuine teen spirit – breaking all the rules, ripping up the playbook and doing everything on its own terms.
Watch the featurette “Putting the Teens in TMNT” here:
To help shape a Turtles movie with the wit and verve they wanted, Rogen, his producing partner Evan Goldberg, and Mutant Mayhem producer James Weaver needed a director who could tell a story full of heart and humor, but who was also not afraid to break the rules. They were pointed in the direction – by Phil Lord and Chris Miller no less – of one man: Jeff Rowe, co-writer and co-director of The Mitchells Vs. The Machines.
Rowe admits that he didn’t need all that much in the way of persuading. As a professed lifelong Turtles fan, when he heard there was a search on for a director for a new version of them, his head started spinning. “I thought, ‘That sounds like a dream project. I would kill to do that,’” Rowe says.
Rowe and his producers all agreed on the direction for the story, which would consider the siblings teenagers first, turtles second. But then Rowe wanted to push the concept even further. What if the movie about teenagers looked like it was made by teenagers? “When he first pitched it,” laughs Goldberg, “we said, ‘Maybe… I don’t know, man. It sounds a little crazy.’”
It probably was a little crazy, at least at first. Rowe’s idea was that he wanted to make a movie that looked not slick and polished – like most CG movies – but as messy, fun and unpredictable as the story’s heroes. “We just wanted it to look like teenage drawings,” says Rowe. “You know, the kind of drawings you did when you were in high school that have weird shapes and bad perspective but are lovingly rendered in places. And were always sincere.”
As the Turtles co-creator and a man who has seen them transform so many times over the years, Kevin Eastman couldn’t be more happy with what everyone has achieved with Mutant Mayhem. “It’s big and loud and proud,” he says. “These guys nailed it.”
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opens in Philippine cinemas August 23. Cowabunga!
**The interviews with Rogen and Rowe were done before the writers’ and actors’ strikes.**
About Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, after years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtle brothers set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic acts. Their new friend April O’Neil helps them take on a mysterious crime syndicate, but they soon get in over their heads when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them.
In Philippine cinemas starting August 23, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is distributed in the Philippines by Paramount Pictures through Columbia Pictures. Connect with #MutantMayhem #TMNTMovie and tag paramountpicsph