It may have not have had the star power fans nor the studio hope for, but Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem kicked off the movie panels at San Diego Comic-Con in fine style.
Due to the writers and actors strikes, the studio didn’t have Seth Rogen, who is both one of the movie’s producers and actors, nor any other voice stars. But it did bring out director Jeff Rowe and plenty of footage from the movie.
Twenty minutes of footage, to be precise. Rowe showed off a chunk from the beginning of the movie and, judging by the reaction, it went over gangbusters. The hall, while not packed in the usual way due, still had thousands in their seats, and the audience was howling for the film, which opens Aug. 2 in theaters.
Unspooling was an introduction to the four turtle heroes, making a night run for groceries around town, deciding to catch a movie in the park (Ferris Buller’s Day Off, a Paramount movie, naturally), and thinking how great life would be if only they could be liked by humans and have normal lives. What follows is getting grounded by their father, Splinter, a recap of their origin, an intro to the bad guy, and then their meeting with human girl April O’Neil, which leaves a bunch of crooks messed up.
And while Rogen wasn’t in attendance, he did make his presence felt via two videos, one which detailed a quick history of the Turtles phenomenon, and another which, paired with Ice Cube (and said to have been made a month ago, before the SAG-AFTRA strike) talked about the movie in general.
Rowe, meanwhile, talked up how much the Turtles meant to him as a child. “It’s what taught me to be a fan,” he said.
And he said Rogen who pushed for the angle of focusing on the “teenage” aspect of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, something he thought was underserved.
The style and art of the animation is scatchy and a break from the shiny and polished style of many other animated movies, with the filmmakers making the choice to emulate an underground comic vibe.
“We looked at how we used to draw in high school, when you’re so passionate but you don’t know how to draw but you don’t know that you don’t know how to draw yet,” said Rowe. “So you’ll lovingly draw a hand, drawing every finger nail, every wrinkle, but the hand is horribly misshapen. There is no formal art training to encumber your pure expression. And we said, let’s do that.”
The panel wrapped with a surprise appearance by TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman, who announced that Nickelodeon and Paramount have secured the rights to the original TMNT animated series that aired in the late 1980s. He did not give details as to when and on what platform the series would appear.
“It’s been almost 40 years and I’m still drawing Turtles thanks to you guys,” he said, nodding to the power of fandom.