Paramount Pictures has shut down a planned reboot of the Ninja Turtles franchise, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. The effects-heavy film, which was in preproduction in Vancouver, was set for release in December 2013. That date is being pushed to May 2014, according to sources.
The issue is said to be the script. Paramount has delayed several big movies from this year to 2013, including G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Brad Pitt’s World War Z, leaving it with a spotty pipeline for the current year. Now it has halted work on its planned holiday movie for 2013, temporarily laying off preproduction staff and informing those prepping the film that the work stoppage is “indefinite,” according to sources. Another source close to the production says the movie has been pushed 10 weeks.
A Paramount rep would not immediately comment.
Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes is producing and Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans) is set to direct from a script by Kevin Eastman and Andre Nemec. Other key players include Bourne franchise line producer Denis Stewart and effects man Dan Bradley (Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol).
The move comes as analysts have been knocking Viacom’s Nickelodeon division for lower ratings. TheNinja Turtles project, a joint Paramount-Nickelodeon production, was eyed as a chance to bolster Nickelodeon as well as reboot a family film franchise. The studio had paid media mogul Haim Saban a hefty sum for rights to the property, which had been the basis for three hit movies for New Line Cinema in the 1990s.
In May, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman touted the Ninja Turtles reboot in a call with investors. “Our pipeline is extremely strong,” he said. “We’re developing more new [episodes] of our popular series and more exciting new series. And of course, we’re particularly excited about the revival of the [Teenage Ninja Mutant] Turtles franchise.”
UPDATED: The film was set for a December 2013 release. A source close the production says the movie will come out in May 2014