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The vision for Mutant Mayhem, according to lifelong TMNT fans Seth Rogen and Jeff Rowe

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made a big impression on actor Seth Rogen at a very early age. 

“The animated series came out in 1987, when I was five. The first movie came out in 1990, when I was eight,” he said. “It was perfectly geared toward someone my age and I loved it. They were funny. They were referential. I started taking karate probably because of the Turtles. I was just kind of obsessed.”

So when Brian Robbins, President and CEO of Paramount and Nickelodeon, called Seth to ask him if he’d like to discuss making a new Turtles movie, Seth already knew exactly what he wanted to do. 


“It’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” Seth said. “Of all those words, the teenage part was the most under-explored, and the most interesting to me.”

That’s how Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem began. Seth saw in it a Turtles movie made with a genuine teen spirit, breaking all the rules, ripping up the playbook and doing everything on its own terms. 

To help shape a Turtles movie with the wit and verve they wanted, Rogen, his producing partner Evan Goldberg, and Mutant Mayhem producer James Weaver needed a director who could tell a story full of heart and humor, but who was also not afraid to break the rules. They were pointed in the direction – by Phil Lord and Chris Miller no less – of one man: JeffRowe, co-writer, and co-director of The Mitchells Vs. The Machines.

Rowe admits that he didn’t need all that much in the way of persuading. As a professed lifelong Turtles fan, when he heard there was a search for a director for a new version of them, his head started spinning. “I thought, ‘That sounds like a dream project. I would kill to do that,’” Rowe said. 

Rowe and his producers all agreed on the direction for the story, which would consider the siblings teenagers first, turtles second. But then Rowe wanted to push the concept even further. What if the movie about teenagers looked like it was made by teenagers? “When he first pitched it,” laughs Goldberg, “we said, ‘Maybe… I don’t know, man. It sounds a little crazy.’”

It probably was a little crazy, at least at first. Jeff’s idea was that he wanted to make a movie that looked not slick and polished, like most CG movies, but as messy, fun and unpredictable as the story’s heroes. “We just wanted it to look like teenage drawings,” said Jeff’. “You know, the kind of drawings you did when you were in high school that have weird shapes and bad perspective but are lovingly rendered in places. And were always sincere.”

As the Turtles co-creator and a man who has seen them transform so many times over the years, Kevin Eastman couldn’t be happier with what everyone has achieved with Mutant Mayhem. “It’s big and loud and proud,” he said. “These guys nailed it.”

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem opens in Philippine cinemas on August 23. Cowabunga! 

*The interviews with Rogen and Rowe were done before the writers’ and actors’ strikes

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