Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has pulled in $375M at the worldwide box office so far. Half of that has come from its domestic run and the other half is from international markets. Though, that figure will change considerably as the film has begun to open in key European markets like the UK, France, Germany, and Spain. It'll wrap up its box office run with openings in the major Asian markets, China (Oct. 31) and Japan (Feb. 7). Now, let's enjoy some fantasic concept art that Jared Krichevsky ("Maleficent") designed for the film, as well as an interview with the artist. Also, be sure to click here so that you can follow Jared's twitter account and click here to follow Jared's new Facebook art page, as he'll be releasing more of his TMNT designs via both links.
CBM: When you were asked to design the Turtles did they already have a certain look in mind?
Jared Krichevsky: The first time the show came into the Aaron Sims Company, they went through a number of various designs between a lot of very talented artists. So when I got the chance to work on it later in 2012 I had to look at what was already done, and had to do my own spin on it. They wanted to keep some of the roundness of the established designs but also wanted a grittier tone. Their individual personalities had to be apparent through the design, so for inspiration they gave us reference pictures of who they wanted each individual turtle to be. Michaelangelo was Bill Murray, Raphael was Clint Eastwood, Donatello was Leonard Nimoy, and Leonardo was Tom Hanks. So another artist, Cameron Ward, and I went to work on some initial head studies. Cameron's image really nailed Leonardo, and I went on to do Mikey, Raph, and Donnie. It was enough to get us the show. I wanted them to be much dirtier and clothed in found objects, since they were societal outcasts and had to make their life and home from other people's rejected stuff.
CBM: Did you look at any of the previous source material for inspiration?
Jared Krichevsky: Certainly, the 90's films and the cartoons had a lot of impact on the designs, especially pushing their already established personalities from the Fred Wolf cartoon. But we had a lot of visual influences from the internet fan base as well, since the turtles have been made so many ways from across the fan art world. We looked at everything. Dave Rapoza's collection of work was everywhere and is very popular. It really seemed like an impossible task to match all that expectation and try to do a new take as well. First and foremost, you have to please the director of the movie. If you've seen Turtles Forever, and I have because I'm that kind of nerd, you know that there's an infinite amount of possibilities for the turtles looks as long as the core elements are the same - thanks to the multi-dimensional elements throughout the show. I figured this is the Bay-verse and they should look like they fit in that world.
CBM: What was the biggest challenge you faced on this project?
Jared Krichevsky: I would say that knowing the weight of the project on your shoulders. There are a lot people to keep happy, since the Turtles have a 30 year legacy and an epic fan base - myself included. I grew up with the 90's movies and cartoons, comics, had all the toys. Everyone in the shop were huge fans. There were are a lot of expectations to have about it. This was also after that infamous script had leaked that got the fan base really riled up, so there was already that built in pressure as well. I remember asking Jonathan if they were aliens or not, turns out they weren't.
CBM: Knowing that the Turtles would be motion-capture instead of a man-in-a-suit, must've given you more freedom, right?
Jared Krichevsky: Absolutely, we had a kind of freedom that allowed us to push and pull their features to make them more distinct in a way that matching direct human proportions couldn't do - we didn't have to fit a guy into a suit. Motion-capture was already hugely popular because of Andy Serkis, and so it was expected at that point the Turtles would follow suit. We designed them in 3D using Zbrush, so the director was able to sit with us and tell us where he wanted to adjust their shapes - make them more bulky etc.. We were able to do that right in front of him. A lot of the size proportions came from another artist, Kelton Cram. We thought it would be great if Mikey was smaller and feistier. Raph would be a tank because of his tough guy attitude. Donnie was less concerned with building mass and was more about intellect, so he would be taller and leaner than the rest. Leonardo was the quarterback, calling the shots, so he had to have the most heroic proportions. But to see what ILM did with the motion-capture was very thrilling. There was a lot of nuance in the animation and performance.
CBM: How difficult is it to balance the cartoon-look of the Turtles and some of their realistic elements?
Jared Krichevsky: They're mutants by the very name in their title, so how much of that balance is there between human, mutant and turtle while still paying homage to the canon. There are some things that were easy to translate - like the shell and the humanoid anatomy. It's interesting that fans had such a strong reaction to the nostrils and the lips, because we couldn't do clicking, rigid beaks like most turtles, they had to be very emotive and expressive and they had to eat pizza. The nostrils well...real turtles have nostrils, so we figured it would help them breathe considering all the physical activity they do. They were all pretty buff in the cartoons and the earlier films, so finding the right amount of fitness was important too, eventually the producers wanted them to be pretty jacked.
CBM: Which Turtle was the most challenging to design?
Jared Krichevsky: Honestly it was Leonardo, because he's the most heroic Turtle in terms of look, so getting him right was a challenge, and we did multiple variations in terms of his age and the overall shape of his head.
The city needs heroes. Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April and her wise-cracking cameraman Vern Fenwick to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES directed by Jonathan Liebesman ("Wrath of the Titans"), and produced by Michael Bay ("The Rock"). The script was written by Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec, based on characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The cast includes: Megan Fox ("Transformers") as April O'Neil, Alan Ritchson as Raphael, Noel Fisher as Michelangelo, Danny Woodburn as Splinter, Jeremy Howard as Donatello, Pete Ploszek as Leonardo, Will Arnett as Vernon and William Fichtner as Eric Sachs. Now playing!.