After what seems like a very long wait, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is finally in theaters this weekend. And while some fans will find a number of reasons to dislike this latest live action incarnation of the hugely popular franchise, they won't be able to deny how much fun the actual turtles are once these four brothers arrive on screen displaying their individual skills and personalities. Its been a long road for director Jonathan Liebesman and Platinum Dunes producers Bradley Fuller and Andrew Fuller, one that has been rife with controversy and sometimes pure hatred from hardcore TMNT enthusiasts who truly believed the property was about to face a wrecking ball.

Well, the smoke has cleared and we've seen the movie. It's actually quite a lot of fun and not the abomination many feared. We recently caught up with the directing and producing trio to chat about the finished movie and some of its high points. If nothing else, they nailed the Turtles. And they give us one of, if not the best, Semi-Truck snow chases in the history of cinema. Trust us, it's worth seeing the movie just for this one moment alone. Jonathan Liebesman also doesn't shy away from the copious amounts of product placement in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while discussing the production, and we find out why Michael Bay was essential in getting this rebooted franchise off the ground.

Here is our conversation:

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You guys were certainly faced with a lot of hate and discouragement as this movie went through production. But it looks like you came out the other end intact...

Andrew Form: We love the movie...

Jonathan Liebesman: I snuck into a screening of the movie last night. I've done that before on my previous films, and sometimes it's a big mistake to do that. I literally like to sit amongst the audience, so I can hear everything that is going on. As you can imagine, that's like taking a massive risk, and inviting unhappiness...

Andrew Form: Sleepless nights could come from that!

Jonathan Liebesman: But it was unbelievable, the response from the crowd. It was incredible. Every moment that we wished could have a laugh or applause, it had that. I'm so happy that the movie is as fun and charming as I remember the cartoons to be. That's what we wanted. We wanted to retain the energy of the Ninja Turtles, what made us fall in love with the Ninja Turtles when we were teenagers and kids.

You were at the screening last night, at Mann's?

Jonathan Liebesman: That was the one, exactly!

There were two big moments that earned applause from the audience. I haven't seen that happen very much this summer. As good as some recent movies have been, I don't think they've played up to that crowd-pleasing scene that gets an audience on their feet.

Jonathan Liebesman: Yeah, you were at the exact same screening I was at. I counted. I sat in the front, the press was in the middle, and I sat in the third row with real people. I heard applause three or four times. I can't speak to [the other movies out there right now], but I think...It is more difficult for people, especially adults, to admit they had fun watching a movie. I don't know why. The bottom line is that it played amazingly. I was so excited. You were in the exact same screening as me...

That was the fun part about the movie. Hearing the audience really get into these characters. I haven't experienced that type of audience reaction in awhile...

Jonathan Liebesman: The elevator scene was insane. Remember, how people applauded? You could just tell how much fun people were having. The movie has no pretense of being anything more than fun and charming. That's all we wanted. At the end of summer, come see a movie that is fun with your family. You know?

This Semi-Truck chase through the snow is quite spectacular. You can't do anything else but sit there in awe. I know watching the credits you had a number of different effects houses working on the movie. Tell me a little bit about how you mapped this out, and choreographed it to capture such a spectacular action set piece?

Andrew Form: Let me back up and tell you that Jonathan Liebesman, whom we had made a movie with before, and whom we had a great time working with, and had a great relationship with...He has been a very close friend of ours for a long time. He was in London, working on Wrath of the Titans. We wanted him to direct Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He was deep in post. We couldn't get him on the phone. And we get it. We know what its like, when you're all buddies, and you're in the thick of it. We heard that he was back in town to show a cut of his movie to Warner Bros. So Brad and I stormed his house. He had no idea we were coming. We knocked on his door. We hadn't seen him for a year or a year and a half...We knock on his door, and then we walked in with this DVD, and said, 'Here's something we've been working on. We know you know about this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles we're working on. Nobody gets it. But Steve Yamamoto, who does previsualization for us, we've been working on the script and some ideas with the writers, so check this out..." And it was the earliest stages of the snow chase. Not a lot of it, but a little bit of it. So you could kind of see what we wanted to do with the movie. We showed that to Jonathan. Luckily, two and a half years later, we're still sitting here, and you're talking about the snow chase. Now I'll throw it over to Jonathan...But that's how it all started. That is literally one of the first things we worked on, on this movie two and a half years ago.

Let me ask you, Andrew, real quick, before you throw it over to Jonathan...A few years ago you wanted to bring Jason into the snow for Friday the 13th Part 2, which never happened. But you've talked a lot in the past about having that type of snow action scene...Did this spring out of that? Is there a connection between the two, because oddly enough, we hardly ever see an action scene take place in the snow. It's a rarity in cinema...

Andrew Form: No, no...The writers came up with this idea. The writers asked, 'What can we do with the turtles that has never been done before?' And luging was something one of the writer's said. It was like, 'That's a no brainer! Put them on their shells!'

Jonathan Liebesman: The guys showed me a very early version of this snow chase, and it was incredible. I had the opportunity to see first hand, when I was directing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the guys, and Michael Bay was in post-production on Transformers 1. I saw what he was able to achieve with a property from the 80s, and how he reinvented it on a scope and scale that was incredible. And you could definitely see the seeds of that in the snow chase. Not only that, because you ask how we achieved the snow chase...It is a team of three hundred people working on this sequence for two and a half years, with Michael Bay sort of grandfathering the grand ideas, to the pre-viz artists taking my direction, along with ideas from Brad and Andrew, to the VFX supervisor at Industrial Light and Magic helping us realize each of those impossible shots in a realistic way, and helping us figure out what we needed to capture practically, to having motion-capture acting that had to be inserted into all those shots...It literally is a three hundred person crew working for three years to get end results. Its so worth it, to see how it was received. I just keep going back to last night's screening...

Andrew Form: What happened last night? What happened when Raphael hit the hummer?

Jonathan Liebesman: Dude, applause , I forgot to tell you...

Andrew Form: Thank you! So when Raphael explodes that hummer...

Jonathan Liebesman: Yeah, applause! They were so engaged, I felt the audience was engaged in that scene. We have breaks in the action for character moments, and it was exciting to see the audience with it. Because so many people have worked so hard, and love this franchise, and love this property...Obviously, we've taken a lot of shit before anyone has even seen a frame of the movie. It was really cool to see that people enjoyed it. Because we worked so hard just for that.

I think a lot of people forget that these characters are teenagers. You don't shy away from that, and you actually are able to bring that true, realistic teenage element out in the characters.

{bold|Bradley Fuller: Something that was important to us, that we talked about endlessly every day was, 'What is the tone of this film?' I think if we get the tone of these characters and the relationships between them right, the film kind of comes together in a great way. That's what the whole thing is built on, more than anything else.

Andrew Form: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird created these Teenager Mutant Ninja Turtles, and it was of utmost importance to us that we maintained the personality of these turtles. As if they were teenagers. Sneaking out when Dad's not looking, sneaking back in...Things that teenagers do, we really wanted to bring that across in this movie.

Let's talk about some of the product placement in the film. There is a lot of it. But it makes sense. How do you find the line between making something work for the movie, and the story you are telling, opposed to just blatantly making a two minute Pizza Hut commercial that is dropped into the middle of your movie?

Jonathan Liebesman: It's hard, and the truth is...Everything is in argument. The filmmaker always wants less. The studio wants to honor their product. Fortunately, Pizza Hut is such an organic thing to put in the movie. And it actually adds to the comedy. We were very lucky there. It actually, in a sense...This is one time where your product placement is actually helping the story along. You know? It's always a balance. There is always an argument about how much or how little.

Whenever you read anything about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you always see Michael Bay's name front and center. But the movie clearly has Jonathan's stamp on it as a director. How does that affect the team, if at all, good or bad, when he gets all the credit up front?

Bradley Fuller: For us, there is no making the movie without him. Because we wouldn't have gotten the team that it takes to make the movie, which starts at ILM. And his expertise to do it. Drew and I don't have any experience making anything like this. It's almost like, you have the best guy in the world to teach you how to do it. So he is inseparable from what we did. Jonathan's fine, we're all good. Because the outcome was good, everyone is very happy!

Can you reveal at least one new character that might be back for the sequel?

Bradley Fuller:Well, we haven't talked about that yet...So we don't know!

B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange