Critics are very happy with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem”, and audiences seem to be all for the film too which has garnered an A CinemaScore.
It turns out though the road to the film turning out so good was a bit of a rocky one. Jeff Rowe (“The Mitchells vs. The Machines”) directed the film and recently explained to Slashfilm that the initial draft he co-wrote alongside Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg was “extremely different” to what ended up on screen:
“It was a high school movie. It was really hard to make the Turtles’ life intersect with a crime-villain plot in a natural way. Also, they got exactly what they wanted on page 30 of the script.
So you just had to reset the movie 30 minutes in and then introduce a bunch of new characters and other kids in high school and new relationships, and it was just so tedious. But that was the movie that we had all agreed to make when we started.”
The actual film is an origin story for the Turtles who try to become heroes to New York City and take on Ice Cube’s Superfly villain. Rowe realised they were already into the making of the movie when they realised the script drafts he and co-writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg had done weren’t working:
“I think Seth and I first broached that with each other, maybe in a text message or something, but it was like, ‘Okay, I don’t want to say this out loud, I’m just going to say this out loud. It’s kind of scary, but I think the movie is fundamentally broken.’ And everything that we’ve assumed it has to be needs to change completely.’
When he voiced that, I felt like terror because he was 100% correct. It was like, ‘Yes, that’s absolutely correct. We have to completely change everything. We don’t have time to completely change everything. Let’s figure out how to completely change everything.’ I feel like that was only last summer.”
He then says that realisation happened as recently as July of last year, and then: “over the next four months, we completely rewrote, re-boarded, and made the film essentially what it is.”
Even with those time constraints and pressure, they delivered the film not just with a quite cost-efficient $70 million production budget but also without crunch conditions for the animators with Rowe telling Insider:
“I wanted to make sure that when we made this film, we did it ethically. We’d be like, ‘Great, let’s figure [requests for flexible working arrangements] out, and let’s accommodate that because that’s your process, and that’s what leads you to make your best art.
And we would often do that with most of the team and just try to make sure everyone always felt supported. I never want the team to be suffering more than I am. And I also hopefully am suffering more than the team because I’m the captain, and I’m paid to absorb that, and they’re not.”
With $43 million already in the bank domestically in its first five days alone, Paramount has already announced a sequel and a two-season TV series bridging the two films for the Paramount+ service.