Every Canceled TMNT Movie (And Why They Didn’t Happen)


Here’s why every canceled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the movie never happened. The titular martial arts reptiles debuted on the pages of their own comic in 1984, but it wasn’t until their cartoon series debuted in 1987 that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles becomes a true cultural phenomenon. The pizza-loving quartet of Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael proved to have more staying power than many other inventions of the 1980s, managing to produce new television shows, movies and video games until the current decade.

the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first graced the big screen in 1990, starring in a live-action adventure that became an outright hit, raking in over $200 million on a $13.5 million budget. Two live-action sequels followed in 1991 and 1993, each doing worse than the last, but it didn’t come close to killing the franchise. More recently, Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes produced two more live-action films in 2014 and 2016, with three animated films also released since 2007, with two more in the pipeline.


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Although all of the above projects have actually been completed since the Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesDuring the height of the 1980s, there were also no less than five planned films that either ended up stuck in development hell or canceled altogether. Three of them defeated TMNT the films were live-action projects, while two were animated. Here’s a look at each one and why they didn’t happen.

Teenage Mutant Turtles 4 (1990s, live-action)

Between 1995 and 1997, two concepts floated for a possible Teen Mutant Turtles 4a sequel to the 1993 time travel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3. Little is known about the first, titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4: The Next Mutation, which was an idea of ​​creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Predictably, this would have involved the Turtles and their mentor rat Splinter undergoing further mutations. The second concept was called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4: The Foot Walks Again.

We know a little more about The foot works again, which would have obviously featured the return of the villainous Foot Clan. This version of TMNT 4 reportedly added a fifth turtle named Kirby, in homage to legendary superhero creator Jack Kirby. It would also have featured the return of Super Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of Slime, as well as the return of the Turtles’ anti-hero pal Casey Jones. Reporter April O’Neill is also said to have turned evil at some point in the film. As to knowing exactly why a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4 did not happen, the general opinion seems to be that the third film’s disappointing box office take and dire reviews led New Line Cinema to be reluctant to continue.

Teenage Mutant Turtles (2011, Live-Action)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014

Between the 1990s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film trilogy and the 2014 reboot franchise produced by Bay, another live-action TMNT the movie is almost here. In 2009, it was announced that a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the film was in the works for 2011. Eastman and Laird were on board as producers, and Young guns writer John Fusco was hired to pen the screenplay. The film has been described as a batman begins-esque gritty reboot of the TMNT franchise, more in keeping with the original comics, which were significantly darker than the 1980s cartoon and previous live-action movies.

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Fusco’s screenplay was also meant to serve as a direct sequel to the 1990 original. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, which, while far from being ultra-violent, drew numerous complaints from parents about its content, leading to TMNT 2 and 3 become mostly watered down in this department. These plans would have made Fusco Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a “requel” long before jurassic world and Halloween would popularize the concept. However, Nickelodeon rushed to buy the rights to the set Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise in the fall of 2009, effectively torpedoing the deal, Nickelodeon’s parent Viacom opting to restart TMNT as a cartoon series in 2012.

TMNT 2 and 3 (2000s, animated)

In 2007, Warner Bros. teamed up with now-defunct animation studio Imagi to release the title simply titled TMNT Animation Film. The reviews weren’t good, but TMNT made money, grossing $95 million on a $34 million budget. Unsurprisingly, two sequels were quickly launched, planned to form a trilogy of turtle-driven adventures. TMNT 2 reportedly adapted the storyline from the ‘City at War’ comic, which saw a despondent Michelangelo seek solace from none other than the Foot Clan. Shredder also reportedly made an appearance, having been defeated by the Turtles prior to the 2007 film’s story.

TMNT 3, which could have ended up being a hybrid between live-action and CGI animation, would have seen Krang and the Technodrome arrive from Dimension X to wreak havoc. The live-action elements would have been actors Sarah Michelle Gellar and Chris Evans, who respectively voiced April O’Neil and Casey Jones in the first TMNT. The late Michael Clarke Duncan was also considered to voice Commander Mozar, leader of a dinosaur-like alien race called the Triceratons. Sadly, TMNT 2 and 3 were also axed due to the franchise being acquired by Viacom/Nickelodeon, leaving fans to wonder what might have been.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 (Reboot Series, Live-Action)

Despite the decidedly negative reviews it received from critics and veterans TMNT fans, the 2014, produced by Michael Bay Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the reboot film was a box office success. This naturally led to the sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: From the Shadows in 2016, which again drew terrible reviews, but this time the box office goes with it. Out of the shadows earned $245 million worldwide, but due to its gargantuan budget of $135 million, failed to make a profit for the Paramount studio after marketing expenses.

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Paramount originally planned to make at least three films in this new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the film series, as the actors playing the titular Turtles, and April O’Neil’s portrayer, Megan Fox, had all signed three-movie deals. However, the second film’s abrupt financial failure forced a dramatic overhaul, with Platinum Dunes and Paramount choosing not to go ahead, likely due to financial concerns. Platinum Dunes and Paramount are not done with the TMNT franchise though, as it was announced in 2021 that Saturday Night LiveColin Jost and his brother Casey came on board to write a new live-action film for the studios. Whether the project will have any connection to the 2014 or 2016 movies remains to be seen, but that seems doubtful.

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