Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem: Everything We Know About Seth Rogen's Animated Reboot

There's just no stopping the green. More than three decades after its release, director Steve Barron's live-action 1990 film "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" remains the benchmark for movies about anthropomorphic, pizza-loving turtles battling villains named after office equipment. Even its sequels had a difficult time recreating the curiously-perfect alchemy of Barron's superhero action-comedy, despite having larger budgets and the raw power of '90s-era Vanilla Ice at their disposal.

One computer-animated feature film and a pair of Michael Bay-produced live-action/CGI movies later, the "Teenage Mutant Ninjas Turtles" franchise is headed back to the big screen, this time as an animated romp titled "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem." The film hales from producing duo Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, neither of whom are strangers to comic book adaptations ("Preacher," "The Boys"), animated projects ("Sausage Party," "Invincible"), or movies that center on teenagers and their shenanigans ("Superbad," "Blockers"). 

That being said: If you're expecting Goldberg and Rogen to deliver a raunchier take on the Heroes in a Half-Shell based on their previous work, think again. Instead, if the pair are to be believed, "Mutant Mayhem" will very much emphasize the "Teenage" part of "TMNT."

When and where to watch Mutant Mayhem

Paramount Pictures will release "Mutant Mayhem" in theaters exclusively starting on August 4, 2023. The studio is expected to make the film available for streaming on Paramount+ just a few months later, possibly (probably?) in time for the winter holiday season.

All things considered, August is a fittingly prime spot for the family-friendly blockbuster. Despite their fluctuating popularity on the big screen, the Turtles have continue to thrive on the small screen and in comic books — something that bodes well for "Mutant Mayhem" and its ability to draw a crowd. As it stands, the movie will square off with Ben Wheatley's giant prehistoric shark sequel, "Meg 2: The Trench," in the battle for box office domination during its opening weekend. "Mutant Mayhem" will also have to fend off Justin Simien's Disney theme park ride adaptation, "Haunted Mansion," which is slated to arrive one week earlier and will be gunning for the same family demographic. 

Who will emerge triumphant in the end: turtles or ghosts? Truly, one of the great philosophical questions of our times, that one.

What is Mutant Mayhem about?

Per the official synopsis: "Mutant Mayhem" follows the eponymous Turtle siblings as they "set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic acts," along the way teaming up with their newfound human pal, April O'Neil, to take on "a mysterious crime syndicate" and an "army of mutants." As mentioned earlier, however, the film aims to be as much a teenage comedy as a high-flying action-adventure.

Indeed, for an IP that literally has "Teenage" in the title, it's odd how often the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" films have neglected to really dig into the idea of the Turtles being adolescents. Out of all the "TMNT" big screen adaptations so far, the original 1990 live-action movie probably spends the most time focusing on the titular heroes' coming-of-age journey, be it by exploring Raphael's struggle to avoid giving into his toxic impulses or the pressure Leonardo feels serving as the Turtles' leader and the de facto older sibling of the group.

Seth Rogen talked about just that in 2020, stating that "Mutant Mayhem" will really try to embrace the idea of being a films about teenagers ... that is, teenagers who just so happen to be mutated reptiles:

"As a lifelong fan of Ninja Turtles, weirdly the 'Teenage' part of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was always the part that stuck out to me the most. And as someone who loves teenage movies, and who's made a lot of teenage movies, and who literally got their start in their entire profession by writing a teenage movie, the idea of kind of honing in on that element was really exciting to us. I mean, not disregarding the rest, but really using that as kind of a jumping off point for the film."

The Mutant Mayhem cast

True to Seth Rogen's word, the Turtles themselves are being voiced by actual teenagers in "Mutant Mayhem." Their ranks include Nicolas Cantu ("The Fabelmans") as Leonardo, Shamon Brown Jr. ("The Chi") as Michelangelo, Micah Abbey ("Grey's Anatomy") as Donatello, and Brady Noon ("The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers") as Raphael. 

The four are joined by quite the star-studded lineup of actors as the Turtles' various friends, foes, and something-in-betweens — not least of which is the man, the myth, the martial arts legend himself, Jackie Chan as Splinter. There's also "The Bear" breakout star Ayo Edebiri as the voice of April O'Neil in the film, along with Hannibal Buress as Genghis Frog, Rose Byrne as Leatherhead, John Cena as Rocksteady, Ice Cube as Superfly, Natasia Demetriou as Wingnut, Giancarlo Esposito as Baxter Stockman, Post Malone as Ray Fillet, Paul Rudd as Mondo Gecko, Maya Rudolph as Cynthia Utrom, and Rogen himself as Bebop. That last one, in particular, just feels right, you know? What can I say: Rogen and animated warthogs go together like peas and carrots.

The Mutant Mayhem crew

Joining Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen as a producer on "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem" is James Weaver, the president of the duo's Point Grey Pictures label. Elsewhere, "Neighbors" and "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising" writer Brendan O'Brien is reportedly penning the script, with "The Mitchells vs. the Machines" co-writer and co-director Jeff Rowe calling the shots.

At the 2022 Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Rowe once again emphasized that "Mutant Mayhem" will focus in on the "Teenage" part of the franchise. He also provided a sneak peek at the film's animation, which was inspired by the doodles he would make on the margins of his notebooks in high school. /Film's Rafael Motamayor described the brief footage that was shown at the event as having "a rough, hand-drawn look despite its 3D-CG animated characters, with a layer of 2D effects like those in 'Arcane' that accentuate the rad mind of a teen."

As for the final result? The footage in the "Mutant Mayhem" teaser trailer very much recalls "Mitchells," in terms of its expressive and overall vibrant aesthetic. Suffice it to say, it's a pretty exciting time to be a "Turtles" fan.

Mutant Mayhem trailer and synopsis

In "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem," 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.