‘TMNT’ Film Series Officially Dead in the Water as New Reboot Takes Over

in Movies & TV

The Ninja Turtles looking scared in 'Mutant Mayhem'

Credit: Paramount Animation / Nickelodeon Movies

An upcoming R-rated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) reboot means the latest film series is officially dead in the water.

While we may never reach the heights of “Turtle-Mania” ever again, the period in the early ’90s that saw the Ninja Turtles explode onto the pop culture scene and take the world by storm (although we are coming very close, which we’ll get into shortly), the popularity of the pizza-munching heroes-in-a-half-shell hasn’t waned that much since their heyday.

But while the awesome foursome dominated the small screen for decades with all sorts of TV shows (following the original 1987 animated series, we had the 1997 live-action series Next Mutation, the 2003 reboot of the original cartoon, the 2012 CG-animated show, and 2018’s Rise of the TMNT), there was a pretty long hiatus on the theatrical side of the franchise.

'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' 1990 character promo
Credit: New Line Cinema

Related: ‘TMNT: The Last Ronin’ Trailer Breakdown

TMNT took its first slice out of the box office with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), which became the highest-grossing independent movie of all time until it was dethroned by The Blair Witch Project (1999) nine years later. The 1990 film was followed in quick succession by two other live-action flicks: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993). But then it all went quiet.

It would take 14 years for the most “fearsome fighting team” to return to the big screen, with TMNT (2007), the CG-animated “four-quel” to the three live-action flicks. But while a solid entry praised by many fans, it failed to reignite Turtle-Mania, bringing in only $95.6M against its $34M budget, forcing the film series back into the sewers for seven long years.

April O'Neil and the Turtles in 'TMNT' (2007)
Credit: Imagi Animation Studios

Related: 5 Reasons ‘Mutant Mayhem’ Is Overrated

In 2014, producer Michael Bay gave the half-shell heroes new life with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), however, its CG-animated, motion-capture Turtles were met with enormous backlash from fans. Still, the reboot grossed $485M against a $125–150M budget, making it a massive success. Its sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016), however, though much better than its predecessor, grossed $245.6M against its $135M budget, which many believe was due to the poor critical reception of that first film.

It didn’t take long for Paramount Pictures to confirm that the planned third film in that series had been scrapped and that yet another live-action reboot was underway, with Saturday Night Live writers (and brothers) Colin Jost and Casey Jost attached to rewrite the script. That was back in 2021, the last we ever heard of the project.

April and the Turtles in 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' 2014
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Related: Live-Action ‘TMNT’ Movie With R Rating Will Feature Female Ninja Turtles

But while it seemed the project had been flung onto the scrapheap to make way for last year’s 3D-animated reboot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023), which became a critical and financial hit, until recently, it was widely assumed that the third Bay film was still in early development. Besides, there’s always room for both animated and live-action Ninja Turtles. After all, the first three live-action movies were being churned out in theaters while the original 1987 cartoon series was still airing on television.

However, last week, we finally got some news about the next live-action TMNT movie — but it isn’t the aforementioned project. Instead, we’re getting a big-screen adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin (2020), the incredibly popular and ongoing comic book series from IDW Publishing. This means that the previously planned live-action reboot is officially dead in the water. Not only that, it also means that Michael Bay’s TMNT film series is completely over, too, as there was some hope the planned reboot would have been some sort of continuation of Out of the Shadows.

Now, the fact that The Last Ronin movie and a sequel to Mutant Mayhem are in the works also proves that animation and live-action can co-exist within the same franchise. There’s no release date for The Last Ronin movie (or the video game adaptation), but there’s a lot of Turtle content coming up. In fact, this is the closest we’ve come to a second Turtle-Mania for nearly 30 years, which might have something to do with 2024 being the 40th anniversary for the franchise as a whole.

Raphael fighting in the trailer for 'Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' (2024)
Credit: Nickelodeon / Paramount

Related: R-Rated ‘TMNT’ Movie Everything We Know: Plot, Cast, Trailer, Release Date, and More

Other TMNT Media

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem 2 (2026) will be released in theaters on October 9, 2026. But first, Mutant Mayhem will be followed by the 2D animated series Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2024), which streams on Paramount+ on April 26.

There’s also a video game sequel to the 2023 film titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants Unleashed (TBA) in development. Another TMNT video game titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade: Wrath of the Mutants (2024), a reboot of the 2017 arcade-style game of the same name, will hit shelves later this year.

Meanwhile, IDW Publishing has renewed its deal with Paramount to continue releasing TMNT comic books, as it has been since 2011. New stories include Nightwatcher, Mutant Nation, Alpha, and Black, White, and Green.

IDW Publishing’s The Last Ronin, its follow-up series, Lost Years and Lost Day, and the first issue of the third series, Re-Evolution, are on sale now.

Are you excited about TMNT: The Last Ronin movie? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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