Genre : Martial Arts/Action/Fantasy
Studio : Unknown. According to sources, likely Tri-Star Pictures. Both Golden Harvest and New Line Cinema bowed out of the project early on in its previous, live-action incarnation. Twentieth Century Fox is a faint possibility.
Production Company : Digital Rim Entertainment, Lion Rock Productions
Project Phase : Pre-Production
Budget : $40 - $60 million (official figure)
Whos In It : Julie Strain ("an evil character from an alternate universe")
Whos Making It: John Woo & Terrance Chang (Producers); Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird (Story); [formerly at least two as-yet unknown Hollywood writers] (Screenwriters); formerly Chiodo Bros. Productions, Inc. and/or Jim Hensons Creature Shop (Special Creature Effects); formerly Michael Dooney (Designs)
Premise : (tentative, former plot) Elements from the Mirage comics classic "City at War" story arc unravel beside an alternate universe plot as the Ninja Turtles of the Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation TV series make it to the big screen for their fourth movie outing. Only this time, Venus DeMilo is along for the ride. Or is she?
Release Date : Christmas 2002 (mentioned)
Latest News : After being bumped from a seemingly official "Christmas 97" release date to a Kevin Eastman spoken "Spring 98" release date to a Kevin Eastman spoken & hoped "Winter 98" release date, there is now no chance of seeing this film in 1998 as no deals have been reportedly made. "Problems" with the script are still being worked out (evidently it is in approximately its twelfth rewrite), and the search for a studio continues, evidently. The cancellation of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation didn't help matters, either, and has been said to have quite possibly prompted another rewrite/revision of the script that will possibly disassociate Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (sans Venus?) from the film. According to sources, "surprising news" came into Mirage Studios that may have been cause for a renewal of hope for this film... but Mirage later cited in early 1999 that whatever plans they had going fell through. The movie was officially in limbo until recently, when just after Peter Laird consolidated 100% of the rights to the TMNT in 2001 he spoke to John Woo, and together they have crafted a seemingly solid plan to bring the Turtles to the screen again in CGI form.
Rumors : The film will not be based on Ninja Turtles : The Next Mutation at all because the show "failed"; everyone is shooting for a PG-13 rating; no studios want to participate in the production of NT4 because Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation has been cancelled; the film has been scrapped with the cancellation of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation; production on NT4 is slow because Kevin Eastman is focusing on FAKK2, the sequel to Heavy Metal (untrue, as his involvement in NT4 is minimal). What seems likely in this fourth incarnation of the Turtles on screen will be a fresh start for the TMNT, disregarding the previous movies and starting the series anew in CGI.
Quotes : "I've always loved the 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,'" John Woo was quoted as saying in Variety. "It's one of the greatest action-adventure properties ever."
Terence Chang added : "John and I look forward to working with Peter to incorporate these original extreme martial arts characters into a terrific first CGI film for Digital Rim, fusing traditional Hollywood creative know-how and highly advanced computer technology."
Links : The Internet Movie Database, where it is listed here ; Corona, where it is linked here
COMMENTS & DEVELOPMENTS (for former, live-action incarnation of TMNT movie #4)
It has been six years since TMNT III left theaters. Information on the upcoming Ninja Turtles IV movie is still trickling in, but remains sketchy. Originally set to premiere in theaters on "Christmas 1997" (Mirage Studios in Northampton, MA even had "TMNT IV" posters in their offices promoting it for this release date), it has since entered what is known in Hollywood as "Development Hell," first being pushed back to a "Spring 1998" release, then "Winter 1998" (both release dates being heard directly from Kevin Eastman in chats and interviews), and now conjecturally some time in late 1999 or 2000. With the one-time instant success of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (and the resulting, if arguable, rebirth of the TMNT franchise) back in September of 97, it seems pretty certain this movie will happen. Eventually. It is uncertain, however, what effect the tentative cancellation of NT:TNM will have on the production of NT4. It cant possibly be good.
Something only recently discovered is that studios are being reluctant to give NT4 the green light, leaving it in what is perhaps perpetual Development Hell. No studio = no movie. Meanwhile, the NT4 creative team (consisting of two writers, with the outline and considerable input coming from Kevin Eastman) is "still working out problems with the script." The studio itself could very well be in question. If the status quo from earlier movies productions had continued in NT4, it would have been Golden Harvest/New Line Cinema, but with Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation being put out by the Fox Kids Network, it was also possible that NT4 would come through Twentieth Century Fox. Well, both Golden Harvest and New Line Cinema bowed out of the project fairly early on due to all the script trouble, and Twentieth Century Fox has not been approached about the movie. Tri-Star Pictures, however, the studio that is putting out Kevin Eastmans sequel to Heavy Metal, FAKK 2, is either still on the project or had been on for a considerable time. The studio situation is not entirely clear.
One of theif not the originaldrafts of the script, titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: New Generation, (the subtitle apparently becoming transfixed in part onto the new TV series as "The Next Mutation") allegedly involved a romp across an "alternate universe," more or less likened to the time-traveling adventure to Feudal Japan in TMNT III. Fortunately, it seems there was either a rewrite or a brand new script written, this one taking into consideration the new Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation series, being a motion picture continuation of it. The plot, according to Kevin Eastman himself in an Internet interview, will be combining the comic story arcs of "Return to New York" (#19-21) and "City at War" (#50-62). If this holds true, some or all of the following are plot elements from the comic that will show up on the big screen in 1999:
Julie Strain, model and wife of Kevin Eastman, said in an Internet interview that she was cast as "an evil character from an alternate universe," stirring rumors that Ninja Turtles IVs plot will not be sticking as closely as hoped to the comic plots of "Return to New York" and "City at War," and may, in fact, be integrating the earlier-ditched "alternate dimension romp" script. The moving, gritty, bite-of-reality, classic comic book arcs of "Return to New York" and "City at War" hardly seem compatible with that of a dimension-hopping adventure akin to the camp of the NT:TNM TV show, but well see what happens.
Dan Berger, co-maintainer of the Official TMNT Homepage spoke of the status of Ninja Turtles IV:
ON GENERAL: "The fourth movie is in a constant state of 'development Hell, with prolly a dozen rewrites of the script at this point. Kevin and Peter only have approval rights, so the time theyre spending on the 4th film is pretty small... but they do have to read every re-write, and of course theres always some new problems cropping up." "Script problems. 'Irreconsiable differences type of stuff, from my understanding." "... Kevin and Pete realize that the 4th movie HAS to be good, or ya might as well bury the TMNT from a commercial stand point. Putting out a really good movie could revive the TMNT in the publics eye something that the Fox show didnt do, surprisingly... most people I know who were fairly familiar with the Turtles in the past had no idea about the Fox show). Putting out another 'Secret of the Ooze will certainly kill the TMNT for a long time if not forever (other than comics)." "I think Pete and Kev are willing to let it sit for a decade or two and then see what happens. This formula seems to be working for George Lucas. =O)"
ON SURPRISING NEWS: "Some surprising news just came into Mirage recently, that could become good news... but the way things have gone with this flick, Ill believe it when Im standing in line to get the popcorn before the movie starts." "Its specific, but Im afraid that I cant say anything beyond that [the surprising news]. Sorry for the 'teaser... with the way things have been going with the movie 4 project, Im not getting excited about it. I figure it will fall to the wayside in time, like the past few 'good specific news things have." 11-14-98: "[re: anything new on the "surprising news"?] I haven't heard a peep for many moons... I'll let you draw your own conclusions on that front... ;O)"
ON VENUS: "The fourth movie was changed last year to bring Venus on board, but now the show that featured Venus has failed, so thats not good." "If the surprising news works out, I can see the movie being made... but in Hollywood, everything moves in slow motion and most projects wind up like TMNT 4... always being developed but never getting made." "...Id be willing to bet that if 4 happens, Venus will not be in it." "Pete never liked the idea of Venus, as hes always wanted the Turtles to NOT have the ability to reproduce to maintain their isolation and uniqueness. Kevin I think is indifferent... he just wants to see the TMNT continue."
ON APRIL & CASEY: "[re: Casey & April in the script] Casey wasnt... I think theyd be hard pressed to get April outta the picture entirely... but then, anything is possible." "[re: April] ...shed have to appear at least briefly."
ON THE RATING: "Biggest trouble with R films is everybody wants to do toy lines based on movies, and no one wants to sell a toy line based on an R rated flick." "...youd want to do a movie that old-time fans could enjoy with their kids... so PG-13 is your best bet."
ON THE SCRIPT: "I havent heard anything about a script for months and months other than Peter saying how idiotic theyd become over the time, and how each version completely ignored any commentary that Peter and Kevin made and went off on a new tangent." "From what Ive heard, the scripts keep getting worse, not better... so Peter and Kevin keep rejecting them. They want the fourth movie to be as good as the first, and theyre not going to settle for anything less (at least at this point... you can approve a good script and have the final film still suck as the production company does rewrites on the set and stuff like that). Peter actually typed up like a 10-20 page treatment of his own at one point, in an attempt to get the writers 'on track... but nothing came of it." "I know theres been at least 2 different 'teams... how many guys make a 'team is beyond me (as is the need for writing teams in the first place =O)" "The last script I heard about (which was over a year ago) was based on the one-shot comic that Pete and Kev did about Kirby, the guy whose drawings came to life [the Donatello special]. I havent got a clue where things went from there (beyond 'to Hell =O)" "[re: current plan for the script] Pete doesnt like to talk about it (which I take as a bad sign =O)"
ON THE COSTUMES: "Last rumor was that Henson might be interested. I dunno though. Im pretty sure Kevin gets along really well with the Chiodo Brothers... so its a mystery to me."
ON THE STUDIO: "To my knowledge, New Line pulled out pretty early on in the development of 4... Golden Harvest stayed on board for like another 6-8 months and then left. Another studio came onboard (Tri-Star I think) and thats when the script process REALLY bogged down." "[re: possible "surprising news" = studio found?] No comment. ;O)"
ON TOYS FOR THE MOVIE: "Thats a real possibility down the road, Id imagine [re: Todd McFarlane Toys]. Playmates is doing pretty poorly these days, and rumor has it that theyre not going to be in the action figure business much longer (this is from what Ive read on various toy web sites, not official word from Mirage)."
Michael Dooney, writer and illustrator of a number of Mirage TMNT comics and costume designer of NT:TNM, had this to say about Ninja Turtles IV in a chat:
"I did designs for the original movie 4 but I think that it must not [be] the same script anymore."
Michael Dooney later (12/24/98) elaborated:
"The designs for Movie #4 were very high tech with lots of bionic elements, would have been very cool costumes, but that is also not happening as of now."
Michele "Donatello" Ivey spoke of the history of Ninja Turtles IV:
"Ever since 1994 Ive been waiting for TMNT 4 to come out. It was at a party with Kevin Eastman that I asked him in person about TMNT 4... He told me it would be coming out in 1995, and that they were going back to Jim Hensons Creature Shop. In 1995, of course, TMNT 4 was a no show. In 1995 I was surfing the web and found the only TMNT web page up at that time... the Surge TMNT page. And it said that the movie was coming out in 1996. So I believed it, it also talked about the live action show on the page. So I waited for 1996, nothing. 1996 I got to read on the TMNT Mirage Web site that its not coming out till Christmas of 1997. At this time I was giving up hope that it was really coming out, but then that year I saw posters in Mirage saying that... it was a let down when I saw on the home page it get moved to 1998. Now after hearing the rumors SO many times I have given up the hopes of seeing a TMNT 4 till proof is out there. The most Ive heard rumors about, is that the set might be moved to LA. The only reason we would see this happen is if the movie is going to be needing it while filming. So if Im right about this, maybe we might get the movie sometime before the year 2000... but I am not holding my breath."
Kim "Leonardo" Garvin had this to say about the plot of Ninja Turtles IV:
"Ok, I will FINALLY come open on one hot tidbit rumor I had heard about the script for TMNT IV many months back. Now that this is out and about, I am in the free to mention it. (I was sworn to say nothing till then, so it would not be me who leaked anything on the possible script.) It was before the TV show stuff started coming out, and so it did not include Venus, but another turtle called Kirby. In honor of the great [Jack] Kirby of comics of course, which Mirage did the Donatello solo [special] with a Kirby character as tribute as well... And it would be about dimension hopping, due to the influence of the mutant Kirbys things, some of which would be dark and nasty. This was to be a gritty flick. Renet [a time-travelling character from the comics] was not involved that I had heard."
NOTE: This scoop has been confirmed by Dan Berger
TMNT writer Gary Carlson had this to say about Ninja Turtles IV:
TMNT Vol. 3, #14 lettercol: "Gary Richardson at Mirage Studios tells me that there are no concrete plans for another movie right now, but that if one does develop it will not necessarily be based on either of the TV shows."
TMNT Vol. 3, #15 lettercol: "As far as a fourth TMNT movie, I dont believe any decisions have been made about one yet, so dont count on it this year."
TMNT editor/publisher Erik Larsen had this to say about Ninja Turtles IV:
TMNT Vol. 3, #3 lettercol: "Im told that a fourth Turtles film is still in the contract statewe may just see it one day." "Kevin and Pete both liked the first Turtles movie the best so you can bet that theyll be pushing for the next flick to be more along those lines."
TMNT Vol. 3, #11 lettercol: "From what Ive heard, the next movie will be more straight out than the last couple but wont follow what were doing in the comics."
The reason Mirage Publishing and the Official TMNT Website is giving as to why NT4 has been pushed back is that they wanted to rework it so as to allow for the NT:TNM TV series, letting them include Venus DeMilo and all the other new tidbits that TNM showcases. As it now seems that despite the absence of "Teenage" in the title of the NT:TNM series, the Turtles are still stuck in their teen years (17), the title of the fourth Turtle movie could very well either be "Ninja Turtles IV" or "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV," excluding whatever subtitle they add in (if any). They could also do as the Star Trek and Alien movie series has done, removing the numerals from the title and adding a subtitle after the title (i.e. Star Trek: First Contact, instead of Star Trek VIII: First Contact).
KEVIN: Even today, after all this time, were currently completing the work on 13 half hour live action shows that Fox TV is doing. Thatll premiere this fall on Fox and theyre putting a decent amount of money into it. The stories are written with a much harder older edge, sort of, say, a cross between the cartoon show and the first Turtle movie, but more toward the first movie in style. The Turtles are older, theyre a little nastier. Were also working on a fourth live action movie which is coming out in Spring 98.
MIKE: Ive heard rumors that the movie is going to be about the Return To New York story (TMNT Vol. 1, #19-21)...
KEVIN: The script that we worked on, we worked on with a writer that weve become friendly with in Hollywood and this guy was brought on to...actually, two guys...was brought on to write the fourth movie script and they basically came to us and they said, "What kind of movie do you want to tell? What do you think would be the coolest movie ever for the Turtles and well start with that and see what we can turn it into." So we combined the Return to New York story and the City at War (#50-62) story.
RiAngelo: The new Turtles rule - is there still a fourth movie in the works that will use the new fifth Turtle, Venus?
KevinE: Yes, there is.
KevinE: Were still hoping for a fourth feature film in 1998. And, the most important new Turtle, Venus, will be very much featured.
Mikey: Is the new movie going to be based on the old Mirage comics at all?
KevinE: Yes, it is.
KevinE: Were taking a storyline called "The City At War" and most of the elements of that will be included in the fourth movie.
THE SOURCE: You should campaign for a part in the next Bond movie. What else is coming up?
JULIE STRAIN: I have a part in the fourth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie, where I play an evil character from an alternate universe. And I am working on a movie that Corey Feldman is directing as soon as I get home in the first part of June, called Busted. Its kind of a Naked Gun type of cop movie. Even though Im bigger than life and aggressive roles come easy, the best time I have is being silly and goofy. Also, I just finished Sorceress 2.
(updated as new information surfaces)
Is the fourth Ninja Turtles movie going to continue the Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation TV series?
That is uncertain at this point. Ninja Turtles IV, as it was set to appear in 1995, had nothing to do with Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (because, of course, NT:TNM did not even exist until 1997). The Ninja Turtles IV project was delayed and altered in 1997 to be based upon NT:TNM and include Venus. This is now said to very likely change now that NT:TNM has "failed."
Will Venus DeMilo be in it?
Again, uncertain. It all boils down to whether or not Ninja Turtles IV will acknowledge Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (and it looks like it might not at this point with NT:TNMs cancellation). Dan Berger says it is unlikely that Ninja Turtles IV will have Venus, and Peter Laird is opposed to Venus in any media.
Will it continue the original TMNT trilogy of movies or will it start everything over?
Most likely it will continue the trilogy, but there has been no official word on that. The Turtles may be living in the same abandoned subway they moved into in TMNT II: Secret of the Ooze, may have already defeated Shredder twice (TMNT I & II), and may have went on a time-traveling journey to Feudal Japan (TMNT III), but there most likely will not be any direct references to any of this. The fourth movie will be a new beginning for the series.
Will it be realistic, cartoony, or campy?
Kevin Eastman at least is looking to make Ninja Turtles IV as dark a film as possible. Does this mean much? It may not, as Kevin is quoted as saying "the stories are written with a much harder older edge" in regard to the goofy campfest that was Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. Since elements from "City at War" are being used in the script, it seems to be set to be more realistic and yes, dark. The target rating is PG-13.
Whats the title of it?
Unknown. The original draft of the script was titled "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: New Generation." This was as official a title as the project has ever received. When the decision was made to base the movie on Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, I myself made the conjecture that the movie would be shortened to "Ninja Turtles IV" with or without the "New Generation" subtitle. I can almost guarantee that the final title will not be "Ninja Turtles IV." Whether or not the main title is "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" or just "Ninja Turtles" (anybodys guess), it is doubtful that it would receive a number 4 after it, as it will have been six years since the last movie came out. The fourth movie will be a new beginning for the series. For a subtitle, maybe "New Generation" will end up sticking, but I doubt it, as it could too easily be confused with "The Next Mutation." Perhaps the title could be "TMNT 2000," or "Ninja Turtles 2000," if production takes that long to put it out. One rumor submitted to me by StarZorak is that the title might also go for a "cooler" feel, perhaps ending up as "Ninja Turtles: Millennium."
Is April in it? Is Casey?
Unknown, but if the script is indeed incorporating the "City at War" storyline from the comics, a storyline Casey & April played a rather large role in, it is quite likely you can expect them back. Dan Berger says that to his knowledge, Casey is not in it, and it seems April will most likely be in it, though the size of her role will be questionable.
For the love of God, when is the damn thing coming out?!
The last two release dates were "Christmas 1997" and "Winter 1998." No new release dates have been given since, but the project is still in development. Late 2000 to mid-2001 seems the most probable at this point, but that is only conjectural, sadly.