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Team behind 90’s Ninja Turtles trilogy sues Warner Bros. for unshared profits

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In the early ’90s, Warner Bros. parlayed the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons into a live-action pop culture phenomenon — Vanilla Ice was recording ninja raps, Partners In Kryme was touting T-U-R-T-L-E power, and everybody was getting paid. Well … maybe not everybody.

Twenty-five years after the first of WB’s three films hit theaters, Deadline Hollywood is reporting that a big chunk of the creative team behind the movies is still fighting for compensation. Producers Gary Propper and Kim Dawson, Director Steve Barron, Writers Bobby Herbeck and Todd Langen, and even an heir to producer Graham Cottle won more than $400,000 in their court battle with rights holder Fortune Star this week. However, the group has yet to receive the cash, and now have their sights on Warner Bros., which distributed all three original TMNT films.

In a 16-page filing submitted today to a Los Angeles Superior Court, the plaintiffs say that they were “entitled to share in a percentage of the profits earned from one or more of the pictures through their international as well as domestic exploration.” Since rights holder Fortune Star hasn’t handed over the $417,235 the company was ordered to pay, the group feels that the studio is now on the hook for the sum.

“Defendant Warner Bros possesses certain rights and obligations to domestic distribution of the Pictures,” read the suit documents. “Those obligations include the responsibility to account to and pay Fortune Star monies resulting from rights it acquired … WB presently possesses funds that it is otherwise obligated to pay to Fortune Star as Fortune Star’s share of profits from domestic exploitation of the Pictures, and in particular from TNMT I.”

You can read the entire filing here, but be warned, it may prove fatal to your inner child.

While we all hold special places in our hearts for the franchises that defined our youths, the reality is that even something as fun and lighthearted as crime-fighting, genetically-mutated turtles named after Renaissance painters can get pretty serious when there’s money involved.

We say bring Master Splinter in to mediate. He’ll have both parties in line in no time.

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