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There are more than 4,000 attendees this year at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, and everyone who entered through the Caesars Palace lobby saw the same sight: four statues accessorized with bold-colored eye masks and skateboards propped at their feet. There was no mistaking the reason as the boards boasted the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem title and release date of Aug. 4, 2023.
Consider it a clever tease from the Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies’ marketing departments and a wink that the studio could possibly deliver some turtle power during its presentation on Thursday morning. That’s exactly what happened inside the Colosseum as the turtles inspired the opening of Paramount’s presentation, which kicked off shortly after 10 a.m.
A DJ, who was placed at stage left inside a booth outfitted with neon green lighting, blasted A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It” as 16 dancers took the stage (some of whom crawled out of a makeshift sewer). Animated footage of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles played on the Colosseum’s big-screen that was in sync with the beat of the music. After their short performance, that also featured a skateboarder rolling across a mini half-pipe, Chris Aronson crawled out of one of those makeshift sewers carrying a pizza box. Paramount’s president of domestic theatrical distribution then handed out slices to the front row while wearing an orange TMNT-approved eye mask.
After Paramount boss Brian Robbins followed Aronson, he then introduced Seth Rogen who flew in for the festivities. “Hello, CinemaCon,” he said as he stepped into the Colosseum lights. “It’s a big stage. Seems unfair to ask studio executives to fill a stage designed for the most charismatic humans on the planet. They built this for Adele!”
He also took a humorous jab aim at Aronson for rising up on stage from the sewer display. “There was something appropriate about seeing a movie executive emerge from the sewers,” said Rogen. “That’s where I thought they came from. It’s not actually the first time I’ve seen an executive crawling out of a sewer at CinemaCon.”
Rogen then got serious by taking a brief walk down memory lane and sharing his personal history with the franchise. He said he’s been watching it since the 1980s and when the first movie came out in 1990, he was 8 years old and seated in the theater on opening weekend. “My obsession just grew.” He said his father even bought him a pair of nunchucks and he ended up cracking his head open with them, “Nunchucks are a bad weapon, they make no sense,” he quipped. “Suffice it to say, I love these characters. They were weird, funny, brave, noble and smart.”
In crafting the film, he said the TNMT team leaned into the teenager element as they thought “what if we cast actual teenagers and let them record together and play together and capture their insane teenage energy and that’s exactly what we did.” He added that the actors “said so many insane things that we couldn’t use” but they were able to capture what it actually feels like to be a teenager. “It’s really, really impressive. Get ready to see green in every sense,” Rogen added, pointing out the fact that he dressed for the occasion (in Dzojchen). “Come on, did you notice?”
The green-clad creative guru then helped debut exclusive footage (not yet available to the public), marking the first time audiences anywhere got an extended look (and listen) featuring the starry voice cast. The plot: “After years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtle brothers set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic acts. Their new friend April O’Neil helps them take on a mysterious crime syndicate, but they soon get in over their heads when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them.”
The full cast includes Hannibal Buress (Genghis Frog), Rose Byrne (Leatherhead), John Cena (Rocksteady), Jackie Chan (Splinter), Ice Cube (Superfly), Natasia Demetriou (Wingnut), Ayo Edebiri (April O’Neil), Giancarlo Esposito (Baxter Stockman), Post Malone (Ray Fillet), Seth Rogen (Bebop), Paul Rudd (Mondo Gecko), Maya Rudolph (Cynthia Utrom); alongside Micah Abbey (Donatello), Shamon Brown Jr. (Michelangelo), Nicolas Cantu (Leonardo), and Brady Noon (Raphael).
Jeff Rowe directed with co-director Kyler Spears from a script by Rogen and longtime creative partner Evan Goldberg, Rowe, Dan Hernandez and Benji Samit. The latest installment is based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman. Point Grey’s Rogen, Goldberg and James Weaver produced with Ramsay McBean and Josh Fagen taking executive producer credit.
CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, is being held inside Caesars Palace in Las Vegas from April 24-27.
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