Ever since Paramount Pictures began working with Platinum Dunes on the most recent iteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there have been a lot of fans asking why the studio didn’t just go back to basics. Many shellheads have fond memories of the 90’s TMNT movies, and they want to see a similar approach taken with modern films based on the franchise. In particular, several people have mentioned that they would like to see a return to animatronic turtles instead of CGI animated heroes in a half shell. Unfortunately, most major studios have been pro-CGI for over 20 years and they show no signs of changing their minds.
That being said, the art of animatronics and practical effects are still alive in Hollywood, so it’s entirely possible that we could see a studio take a chance on putting these characters back into specialized costumes once more. Sadly, Paramount Pictures hasn’t exactly shown any interest in sticking with practical effects over the past few years. Although Universal Studios has continued to work with special effects masters such as Rick Baker and even has plans for yet another Chucky movie in 2017, Paramount doesn’t appear to be working with anything but CGI.
Of course, it’s also worth pointing out that Paramount Pictures is currently in a lot of trouble. Many of their films flopped in 2016, and they are currently in the middle of a shake-up that could drastically affect how they approach film production. Studios in this position might be willing to take more chances, but they also make every attempt to cut back on budgets. Believe it or not, that could actually be exactly the environment needed for them to consider a return to the 90’s style of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies.
The first TMNT movie was actually an independent film, so the budget was fairly low at only $13.5 million. Even when you factor inflation into that, a modern equivalent budget would probably be something around $25-$30 million. Considering that the last two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films had a budget well over $100 million each, it wouldn’t hurt to consider a lower budget, and they might even be able to bring back animatronics and practical effects with that kind of approach. Not only would the film be cheaper to produce, but they’d also please a lot of fans by giving them the old school turtles that they know and love.
Sadly, although it’s entirely possible that Paramount Pictures could go back to basics with their next attempt at a TMNT movie, it’s not necessarily likely. Even if you present this to them as a means of lowering the budget and giving in to the demands of the audience, it would probably be far too difficult to convince them that people actually want to see something with less CGI. It’s always possible that they will change their minds, but I would be very surprised if Paramount actually went animatronic with their next Ninja Turtles project.
In all honesty, there is no way of knowing exactly what we will get with the next Ninja Turtles movie. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that we’re more likely to get another animated film before they make another attempt at a major motion picture. Viacom knows that their most successful TMNT product has been the Nickelodeon animated series, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them make a safe bet by producing more content related to their most popular properties. They’ve already announced plans for a few movies related to retro Nicktoons, so it may only be a matter of time before they branch out by taking a chance on an animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.
When it comes to the potential for another animatronic TMNT movie, I wouldn’t put any faith in either Viacom or Paramount Pictures; it’s always possible, but it’s definitely not probable. Ultimately, we’ll just have to wait and see what the studio and their parent company decides to do with this property. At the very least, we can expect them to continue producing the animated series. Here’s hoping that whatever they do next is a project that most fans can get behind, because there has been far too much animosity between shellheads with differing opinions over the past few years. Let’s get away from these divisive films and hopefully move on to far greener pastures!