Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The 25th Anniversary

Back in the late 1980s, comic book films were film studio’s kryptonite, nobody wanted to go near them after the disaster that was Howard the Duck’s live-action feature film in 1986. Its hard to imagine how such sure-fire successes comic book films have today that back then it was simply a no go. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a premise straight out of a child’s imagination; four teenage, giant turtles who have been trained in the art of Ninjutsu, who also live in the sewers under New York City and eat nothing but pizza. Long before Michael Bay produced the critically panned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot in 2014, the heroes in a half shell started life as a comic book in 1984.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird first published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in 1984 as a parody to popular comic book heroes at the time. Appearing first as a black and white comic that had a limited print run in New Hampshire, USA, popularity soon grew thanks to clever marketing and advertisements in comic book circles. The incredible rise to stardom started when a licensing agent contacted Eastman and Laird about merchandising options of manufacturing a line of lead figurines based on the comic. Through the success of the initial toys, Laird and Eastman approached Playmates, a small upstart toy company in California, to produce action figures to accompany the comic book.

After the rising popularity of the comic books and action figures, Laird and Eastman thought an idea of a mini-series to help promote the action figures. The animated show lead to being picked up by American cable network CBS which helped catapult the Turtles into the mainstream. The TV show, which ran from 1986 for an incredible 10 years until 1996, became a huge international success throughout this time. The popularity went through the roof in the late 1980s and early 1990s, where you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing Turtles’ lunch boxes, on cereal packets and even food tie-ins.

It was at this time that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wave of success caught the attention of producer Gary Propper, who subsequently persuaded Laird and Eastman to option the film rights. Steve Barron was bought onboard to direct, who had previously worked on successful music videos, including Billie Jean, as well as Bobby Herbeck to write the script. With all the pieces in place, all that was left to do was to find a studio to fund it. At the height of Turtle mania, that shouldn’t be such a hard task. But unfortunately due to past failures and box office flops of Howard the Duck and Masters of the Universe, practically every studio in Hollywood wouldn’t even go near the film. Nobody in the film industry thought a comic book could be turned into a live-action feature film.Dancing Ninja Turtles

Having exhausted all possibilities, Propper thought maybe he could try his luck in Hong Kong with Golden Harvest, a production company that specialised in kung-fu films, noticeably Enter the Dragon and other Bruce Lee films. But the first meeting didn’t go as planned. Yet again, the proposed Turtles film fell on deaf ears until they realised they could make the film for very little money in Hong Kong. It was agreed that Golden Harvest would greenlight the production for a relatively small budget of $3million.

Then came one of the most important moves of the entire film production, the hiring of Jim Henson and his Creature Shop to design the costumes as well as manage all the required animatronics. Luckily, Steve Barron had worked with Jim Henson before so he approached the legendary man responsible for Sesame Street and the Muppet Show, to join the project. Barron managed to convince Henson to offer his services after doubts crept in due to the violent nature of the original comic books. But even after all of these hurdles, the main problem of distribution still hung over the film’s production. Without the funding behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the project could collapse at any moment. In stepped New Line Cinema, who saved the production and at last secured distribution rights and a release.

As with any film, the hassles and trials of funding, casting and preparation, nothing ever compares to the actual production of the film. Problems with the costumes, which weighed in at 70 pounds and soon became unbearably hot inside for the actors, and at times even caused meltdowns from the actors who desperately wanted to escape the turtle costumes after every scene.

The film finally opened on 30th March 1990 to an incredible success, with kids going wild all over the country for it. Barron claimed that if the film opened to $7million then it would be considered a great success. Little did they know that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles went on to smash all records and become the highest grossing indie film of all time, taking in more than $135million in just the first week.

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MacGruber: A Cult Favourite?

What started as a Saturday Night Live sketch first appearing back in January 2007, MacGruber hit the big screen in 2010 to mixed reviews and a particularly bad showing at the box office. Will Forte plays the title character MacGruber, a special operations agent, a parody of the popular 80s adventure MacGyver. Forte is also joined by fellow SNL regular Kirsten Wiig as his assistant, Vicki St Elmo. MacGruber, much like his parodied influence, makes use of everyday household objects in an attempt to diffuse bombs. The original SNL skit was just a recurring scene in which MacGruber and his assistant were trapped in a control room with a ticking time bomb. MacGruber would proceed to ask for random everyday objects in an attempt to stop the bomb and save everyone. But MacGruber would repeatedly get sidetracked by irrelevant issues and the bomb was never diffused, ending each sketch by an explosion and presumably killing everyone.

MacGruber PosingThis premise ran for several years before a full length feature film version was announced. Considering the very basic premise of the show would be difficult to translate into a motion picture, Forte and creator Jorma Taccone had to come up with an idea that would work as a film. Choosing to stay with satirising 80s action shoe MacGyver, they decided to extend it to cover all action movie tropes of that era. With only a budget of $10million, the film was released in May 2010 to dismal box office takings, making only $9.3million, still short of their relatively low budget. The film fared only slightly better with critics, where it has earned just 47% on film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.

The film version involved Forte and Wiig reprising their roles as MacGruber and St Elmo respectively. This time they are joined by Ryan Phillippe as Dixon Piper, a young lieutenant who is assigned to MacGruber;s team, much to his disdain. MacGruber is forced out of retirement and is tasked to retrieve a nuclear warhead from his old nemesis Dieter Von Cunth, played by Val Kilmer. The film, although a hit with fans of the show, became the 2nd worst film in terms of box office takings of 2010, behind the forgettable The Warrior’s Way, starring Geoffrey Rush and Kate Bosworth. In fact, the film became the lowest-grossing wide releasing SNL film ever, behind the likes of Wayne’s World and Blues Brothers, both of which were box office successes as well as cementing themselves as cult favourite status. But as with many similar films, MacGruber slowly grew a cult following and its popularity is one that continues to grow. So much so that a sequel has been confirmed by the original’s director and creator, Taccone, who announced the news last year and Forte has been quoted as saying shooting might have already been wrapped up.

In the meantime, MacGruber is available to stream online through Netflix.

How To Watch Hundreds Of Free Movies From The Public Domain

Did you know there is a secret untapped and little known source of full length movies on the web? No i didn’t either until i heard about free to watch public domain movies.

Free movies from the public domain

Free movies from the public domain

These are films that are usually of a vintage nature (that means a few years old to you and me), or sometimes more modern films that  have slipped out of copyright and entered the public domain. Alternatively sometimes the film’s owners decide to contribute it for public consumption and they forgo any royalties.

This means that no one owns copyright on the films and you can watch them for free. So if you can look past the age of the movies, then you get an amazing number of classic full-length motion picture films, b-movies, cartoons, documentaries and other videos for no cost.

It’s paradise city for those of you cutting the cord, and as a bonus many can be downloaded for offline viewing.

You can watch most of these movies from any connected hardware that can run a browser, and from anywhere in the world. From smartphones, tablets, computers, Macs and streaming boxes. No fees, software, or registration is needed to download or play the movie.

The only slight problem is determining whether a movie is out of copyright. You can sometimes gauge it from the year the film was made. For instance any film made before the mid 1920’s will usually be copyright free. But many films made up to 1964 are also free to use,view or download.

But the good news is that you don’t need to worry about copyright details, you can just visit one of the many websites that cater to free public domain movies. We have compiled a list of the best public domain movie websites here.

Retail Outlet Target Enter The TV and Movie Streaming Market

US retail giant, Target are entering the internet TV arena with a new service called Target Ticket. The service will offer consumers digital movies and TV episodes to purchase or rent.

target-ticketTarget who are the second biggest retailer in the US, behind Walmart (who own the Vudu streaming service), have been trialling the streaming service with company employees for a while, and are now almost ready to unleash it onto the public.

The targetticket.com website promises a 15,000 catalog of media that includes new movies (some prior to DVD release), classic films and next-day TV with instant access. Titles will include both current and archive content from providers including ABC, AMC, CBS, CW, Fox, FX, HBO, The WB, NBC, Showtime and Starz

The service which will include  parental controls and easy purchase options, will be available for PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices. Support for consoles, Blu-Ray players and other connected hardware is said to be coming too.

The service is also said to support the Ultraviolet standard, which lets buyers of physical discs get access to a streaming version for free. Costs are expected to be high (just like iTunes) for movie purchases from $12.99-$14.99. Movie rentals will be between $3.99-$4.99 with TV shows from $2.99 and full seasons at $35.

Netflix Lose Titles Taken By Warner Archive Instant

The ‘Oldie but Goldie’ streaming service, Warner Archive Instant has an unusual business model. Charge more than Netflix or Hulu and show only old stuff! But as a consequence, Netflix are losing a big chunk of their catalog as Warner take the content to their new site.
Warner-Brothers-archive-instantReported by Slate as a, “Streamageddon”, Netflix are said to have lost an estimated 1,794 movies from the Warner Brothers archives, just in time for Warner Brothers to add them exclusively to their own internet TV service.
To complicate matters, Warner in a tweet denied they had pulled the movies from Netflix, and Netflix themselves seemed to confirm this when they stated that the missing content was due to an Epix agreement expiring, and that many more titles will replace the ones leaving. In an email sent to the press, Netflix said,
“The vast majority of the titles that expire on Wednesday are older features that were aggregated by Epix. We recently added many great, more recent titles such as ParaNorman (Universal), Hunger Games (Epix), Safe (Epix) and Bachelorette (Weinstein). Tomorrow we will also add MI:2, among many other titles. Netflix is a dynamic service, we constantly update the TV shows and movies that are available to our members. We will add more than 500 titles May 1, but we also have titles expiring, this ebb and flow happens all the time.”
The WB Archive instant service for US viewers launched last month, costing $10 monthly (compared to $8 for Netflix), runs on PC’s, tablets, phones and Roku streamers  and offers instant viewing of “rare and hard-to-find movies and TV” shows. When they say rare, they mean rare. The archives are said to head all the way back to the 1920’s.

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Hulu Streaming Akira Kurosawa Movies Free This Weekend

The legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa of Seven Samurai fame, would have been 103 if he was still alive today (he died in 1998 aged 88). To celebrate, Hulu and the Criterion Collection are making available 24 of his films for free US based streaming this weekend.

seven-samurai-Akira-KurosawaAll the well known Kurosawa movies can be watched for free, apart from Seven Samurai Hulu are offering Rashomon and Yojimbo, Drunken Angel and The Hidden Fortress amongst others.

Hulu Plus teamed up with Criterion back in 2011, and celebrated the second anniversary with another free streaming weekend in February.

The Seven Samurai movie tells of a village of farmers terrorized by bandits who hire seven samurai, and led to the Western remake The Magnificent Seven.

The full Criterion list of Akira Kurosawa titles are available as a DVD boxset, and online viewers can head over to Hulu and have a marathon watchathon. But hurry, the weekend wont last long.