Liebesman is in final negotiations to take on what will be the fifth film to star the anthropomorphic reptiles, who are named after famous renaissance painters. Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello debuted in 1990's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (one of the most profitable independent movies ever) and appeared in two further live action films, in 1991 and 1993, before switching to CGI animation for 2007's TMNT. The latest iteration, which will be based on a screenplay from Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol's Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, marks a return to live action.
The team of turtles were created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird for a black and white comic book series in 1984. They are traditionally mentored by rat sensei Splinter and often face off against a martial artist villain named Shredder. Thanks to the films – particularly the first, which made more than $200m at the global box office – and several cartoon TV series, they have enjoyed enduring popularity with children across the globe and proved highly lucrative in terms of merchandising.
The new film is being put together by Michael Bay's production company Platinum Dunes at Paramount, the studio that bought the brand for $60m in 2009. Liebesman directed horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning for Platinum Dunes, and recently completed the swords and sandals sequel Wrath of the Titans.