Young Guns Scribe Writing Live-Action TMNT Movie?

Update [by Editor Peter Sciretta]: Variety has confirmed this earlier report. Fusco issued the following statement: "It is always exciting when you can come aboard a project that bridges the worlds of what you do with what you love." No other new information has been revealed.

A TMNT fan blog noticed the other day that the official TMNT site had released details of the Turtles' panel at Comic Con, and the page (since deleted) had some new info. Among the guests listed for the panel was John Fusco, noted in the listing as the writer for the live-action movie due in 2011. That's an interesting choice for the project, and suggests that the aim is to create more than a simple cash-in that preys on fan nostalgia.

Fusco wrote the two Young Guns movies, Hidalgo with Viggo Mortensen, the recent Jet Li picture The Forbidden Kingdom and may be writing the latest attempt to remake Seven Samurai. None of them cinema classics by any means (not talking about the Kurosawa Seven Samurai, obviously) but it's a resume that has a strong western/martial arts bent. And what is TMNT (also no cinema classic) really but a cheeky urban version of Western and wuxia tropes?

A new TMNT film has been a possibility since the 2007 CGI feature did relatively well. Co-creator Peter Laird has talked more than once about the possibility of a live-action film with CGI Turtles; no more chunky suits and animatronic heads. Which is kind of a shame, really. The world needs more scary animatronic turtle heads.

Laird has called the potential film a Batman Begins-style reboot, which would re-tell the origin of the characters. At one point he suggested it might even include the two-legged robot 'mousers' which appeared in early issues of the black and white comic series. But a recent casting call announcement seeking martial artists to appear as the Foot Clan suggests that the film will re-tell the Shredder / April / Foot Clan story seen in altered form in the original 1990 live-action movie. If that casting call was accurate then this project is further along than anyone thought; if a trade break doesn't announce Fusco soon, we'll likely know more at Comic Con.