I’ve loved movies since I was 4-years-old, and I ultimately credit Batman (1989) with blowing the door open to the world of cinema. However, I did become obsessed with one film before that which was responsible for cracking free said door: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990). This original Turtles picture was introduced to TMNT and remains my favorite iteration to this day. This film, which means so much to me, celebrates its 30th-anniversary this year. The latest online celebration comes from Comic-Con@Home’s 30th-anniversary, Shellibration! Creator of The Old Turtle Den YouTube channel and podcast, Chris Castaneda, moderates the First TMNT Film 30th Anniversary panel featuring the movie’s producer Kim Dawson and co-screenwriter Bobby Herbick.
The pair chronicle their perspective on the making and reception of TMNT ’90. Dawson explains that he and his business partner fell in love with the original comic book series in late 1986 and decided they wanted to adapt it for the big screen. At the time, Dawson had ties to the production company Golden Harvest Productions, where his pal, comedian, and screenwriter Herbick was working on another flick. Upon being approached with such an idea, Herbick immediately cottoned to the project. Before attempting to crack a script, the pair made a firm decision to craft a story that would appeal to both kids and their parents. Of course, they needed to convince the creators of the turtles, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, to let Golden Harvest acquire the film rights, and they proved successful in doing so.
From this point forward, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became what Herbick describes as “A project of stops and starts.” Not least of which was presented by the fact that Golden Harvest still required a U.S. distributor before they would transition from pre-production to production. Thus, Dawson pitched the movie to Disney, where he was working as a producer developing The All-New Mickey Mouse Club (1989-1995) at the time. However, The House of Mouse turned it down, insisting such an adaptation would never work. Before long though, 20th Century Fox. Alas, those plans were scrapped when Fox experienced a regime overhaul. Following that, the only studio that expressed interest was New Line Cinema.
As far as the film production itself, Dawson and Herbick make that portion sound like pleasure. They then dispense with tales of their delight over the reception of the film and the beloved reputation it garnered with fans over the years. Fans, myself included, who seem to want a continuation from this first film. While the duo admits such a possibility was highly-unlikely, there could still be a theatrical revival for the film this year. Should theaters be open again by the Fall, Fathom Events and Warner Bros. will be rolling out 30th-anniversary screenings! Admittedly, I don’t think this panel would appeal to a mere casual fan of TMNT ’90. Still, it’s a shelluva’ time for devotees like myself, as Dawson and Herbick provided rarely heard insight.