When producer Scott Mednick develops something for the big screen he certainly doesn't shy away from the sacred cows. He had a hand in bringing the biggest superhero of all time back to film in Superman Returns. This year he's producing the filmed adaptation of one of the most beloved children's books of all time with Where the Wild Things Are.
Of course the news that caught the attention of many here at Mania was that his next trick will be re-introducing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to 21st century youngsters.
"We are intent on re-telling the origin, as it was in Batman, as it was in Superman, frankly as it was in Spider-Man. We have an entire new generation of fans who really don't know the full back story," Mednick told Mania.com in an exclusive interview. "As great as the [2007 animated film 'TMNT'] was, my son said, 'how come a rat is their father?' You know? Because he wasn't around for the 1990 version."
That's not to say the new live-action Turtles movie will be softened up for kids.
"You also have a much more sophisticated audience. Even the younger kids are more sophisticated by the information they receive. Things have become a little darker and a little edgier, just in general," Mednick told us. "Certainly as filmmakers the technology has come so far. It really gives us an opportunity to revisit the material and come at it, hopefully, in a new dramatic way from a filmmaking standpoint, and honor the old, and bring in the new."
Mednick says fans will get a taste of how cool the live-action Turtles will look when they see Where the Wild Things Are this year.
"Jim Henson did brilliant job in 1990 [for the first live-action movie]," Mednick said with admiration. "Now...there's face-replacement technology. The Wild Things were actually done by the Creature shop and Brian Henson, and we use face-replacement technology to get more emotive and expressive faces out of puppets.
"We want the Turtles to be real. We want them to be in the movie, not Gollumed," Mednick told us. "We're excited about the opportunity to use all of these new technologies to give the experience that you really believe the turtles are real. They're teenagers. They have great personalities. They're not guys in suits."
Mednick wouldn't talk story with us other than to to say they'll be starting from the origin. At the time we spoke, they had not yet hired a writer, but talented filmmakers have apparently been clamoring for their shot at the heroes on a half-shell, ever since the project was announced.
"We've had incoming phone calls, from people you wouldn't expect: actors, directors, writers going like, 'Oh my God! I grew up with this. I love this. I would kill to do this,'" Mednick said. "You realize how impactful these stories have been over time and how these characters have become a part of the fabric of our culture."
That cultural importance is something Mednick holds dear, be it for the Ninja Turtles, Superman or the Wild Things. And if he failed to appreciate the responsibility of it, he knows the fans would remind him. This was apparent at the Tribecca Film Festival, where they lit the Empire State Building green and screened the 1990 film on a massive outdoor screen, before announcing the new movie to fans there.
"We were introduced to come up on stage as the producers of the next generation of the film. You know, big applause," Mednick recalled, "and as the applause was dying down I hear someone scream, 'Don't screw it up!
"So, I take that to heart. I take that message seriously."
Watch for more on the development of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles right here on Mania.com.