Turtle’ Trouble In N.Z.: At The B.O. And Customs

Those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are in the soup in New Zealand. Kiwi mums are keeping their youngsters from the boxoffice, and the customs department is delving into merchandising.

Joe Moodabe, Hoyts managing director, says release of the movie over the summer holiday has been a “disaster.”

“Maybe it’s come too late to us – too long after all the hype. But that doesn’t explain the success it’s having in England. I rather think it’s more a case of mums keeping their kids away,” Moodabe says.

The movie received bad press because of its violence when it opened in August to big business in Australia. Moodabe says the word spread. It is screening for general audiences but with a warning note: “Contains violence.”

Meantime, customs has seized Turtles merchandise it considers to be in violation of international copyright agreements. The 1,900-piece consignment from Thailand includes sets of kids shirts and shorts and 13 dozen t-shirts.

The seizure followed an application from Mirage Studios of Massachusetts seeking a ban on copies of the approved Turtles logo. Inspection of the contraband by patent attorney Philip McCabe, acting for Mirage, has disclosed some of the goods “clearly counterfeit” and other items correctly licensed but not authorized for sale in New Zealand.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” released by Roadshow through Hoyts in New Zealand, was expected to be the major attraction during the summer. Instead it is running a distant third to “Three Men And A Little Lady” and “Days Of Thunder.”

“It was meant to be another ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit,'” Moodabe says. “But it ain’t.”

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