EXCLUSIVE: I hear that Paramount has hired the writing team of Art Marcum and Matt Holloway for close to $1 million to reimagine a new release of the live action feature Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “The studio is looking at this as its next huge franchise, like Transformers,” a source just told me. Indeed, Platinum Dunes which is Michael Bay’s, Andrew Form’s, and Brad Fuller’s company, is producing along with the original producers Scott Mednick, Galen Walker, and Maria Norman. Paramount’s Adam Goodman is fast-tracking and wants a first draft by October so the studio can take it out to directors right away for a 2012 release. The speed is understandable since Viacom Inc’s Nickelodeon acquired the global intellectual property rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for $60 million in partnership with sister company Paramount Pictures for the TV, film and video game franchise which the characters have spawned. ICM made the script deal for Marcum and Holloway, who shared credit on Marvel’s Iron Man (the good one…) and just wrote the Highlander reboot for Summit Entertainment. The latter will start shooting next year under helmer Justin Lin whose Fast And Furious 5 is filming right now for Universal.

Considered one of the most popular kids’ television programs of the 1980s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was created in 1984 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. It first debuted as a successful comic book series and then became a hit animated TV show, a live-action television series, three live-action films distributed by New Line (1990-1993), and a recent CGI film distributed by Warner Bros. The property also has translated into a significant consumer products business, with DVDs, video games, toys and more generating billions of retail dollars.

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