The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise has always been rather larger than life, and that pattern seems to be holding true for the upcoming reboot. What used to be a series of films that started with actors in turtle suits has transformed into a product that makes good use of the incredible visual effects and technological advantages that are available to modern blockbusters. This time out, the Turtles are in a motion captured/3D presentation, and if you're in the right area, you'll also get to see them in IMAX.
The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that IMAX is looking to release the Michael Bay produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into limited large format venues in international territories. Greg Foster, CEO of IMAX Entertainment, explained the move in an official statement, praising the film saying, "Longtime partners Michael Bay and Jonathan Liebesman have done a wonderful job of updating this classic franchise for a next-generation audience."
On the surface, this sounds like a vote of confidence. Paramount has created a very strong relationship with IMAX, thanks to films like Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and the Transformers sequels.However, despite this previous history, I'm more convinced that it's more of a hedge bet. After all, if the film is that good, why wouldn't IMAX release the film in domestic theaters? Much like Battleship, Cowboys and Aliens, and The Lone Ranger before it, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles looks like it's the latest film to be released on international IMAX screens in order to try and boost box office numbers abroad in case of a weak domestic opening.
Think about it: Guardians of the Galaxy opens a week before Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with a full IMAX release, and judging Marvel Studios' track record, there's a good chance that it could stay in first place for two to three weekends. To make sure they can stay competitive, Paramount might have agreed to this type of release strategy as a sort of damage control for a film that has been met with mixed audience reaction since it was first announced. The move could end up being a repeat of Battleship's strategy - which went to international IMAX theaters while The Avengers was cleaning up in its third week of box office release (a box office release that also included an IMAX release window)
On a more positive note, this move could be motivated by the success Paramount had with World War Z being released in international IMAX screens, which was then followed by a week long run in limited domestic venues. That domestic release was probably secured on the back of the film's success overcoming a tidal wave of negative press it had incurred during its production, and it only sweetened the pot on a film that had become a bankable investment overnight.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hits theaters domestically on August 8th, and if the folks at IMAX are to be believed t just might surprise audiences with how good it is. At the very least, it should be able to give Into The Storm (another film with a domestic IMAX platform release) a run for its storm chasing money in late August. Let's just hope that Michael Bay doesn't leave his producer's chair to give input on the IMAX transfer, as the job he did with the pyramid set piece for Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen was horrific.