We haven’t reported on every tiny shred of the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles controversy because frankly, it’s getting a bit ridiculous. But enough has happened since our last report to warrant an update, so here goes. Wrath of the Titans director Jonathan Liebesman is directing a new version of TMNT for Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes production company, and the film is set for a Christmas 2013 release. Bay recently angered fans by revealing that the turtles will be aliens in this adaptation, causing purists to go ballistic and storm the message boards; even Robbie Rist, who voiced Michelangelo in the 1990 film, pointed to this plot alteration as a sign of the continued “rape of our childhood memories.”
Now, Bleeding Cool has word (via /Film) that the film is operating under the working title Ninja Turtles, fueling speculation that not only will the heroes in a halfshell not be mutated, but they also might not be teenagers.
This very well could be a case of the movie working under an abbreviated title, but it’s rare that it would so closely mirror the actual plot of the film. Normally, those working titles are altered to throw off the scent of the public while the production is out shooting on location. The Dark Knight Rises, for example, went under the working title “Magnus Rex,” Inception was called “Oliver’s Arrow,” and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek chose the name “Corporate Headquarters” because it sounded as boring as possible. BC’s sources aren’t clear about the reason for the name change, and they claim the decision is driven by marketing, citing the recent failure of John Carter as evidence (a comparison that makes little sense, if you ask me). TMNT is much more of a recognizable brand name for today’s audience than John Carter or John Carter of Mars, so wouldn’t the studio want to capitalize on the series’ name recognition?
If the filmmakers are, in fact, going to remove both “teenage” and “mutant” from the title and story, it begs the question: why make a movie about these characters in the first place? It strikes me as odd that a title that completely sums up everything you need to know about these heroes is being truncated for seemingly no reason. I’m not ready to storm the Bay mansion and burn it down like half of the internet appears to be, but it just sounds like a weird choice on their part. We’ll see how this thing progresses, but in the meantime, what do you think of Turtlegate? Where do you come down on all this?