Viacom division acquires franchise for $60 million

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are taking their crime-fighting ways to Viacom.

Conglom has plunked down $60 million for the global rights to the property, considered one of the most successful franchises in the past 25 years given the myriad TV series, films, videogames and toy lines based on the sewer-dwelling characters.

Viacom acquired the rights from the Mirage Group — which has owned the property since 1984 — and 4Kids Entertainment. Paramount will now steer a new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” feature to the bigscreen, planned for 2012.

Scott Mednick (“Where the Wild Things Are”) is producing the pic alongside Galen Walker, who produced 2007′s computer-animated “TMNT,” the most recent installment in the franchise.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a property that maintains a very passionate global fan base, is rich with opportunity for a tentpole movie and is exactly the right property for us to work together on with Nickelodeon,” said Paramount prexy Adam Goodman.

Additionally, Paramount’s sister company Nickelodeon will develop a CG-animated TV series, slated to premiere in 2012. Nick, which also acquired all merchandising rights to the Turtles, will continue to work with its original and longstanding toy partner, Playmates Toys.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shares a comedic sensibility with the Nickelodeon DNA, with added layers of action and fantasy that have kept this property an evergreen favorite with multiple generations of audiences,” said Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group. “We are extremely happy to have the opportunity to be able to focus on this property and creatively re-introduce it to a new generation of kids.”

The “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” animated TV series — jointly produced by 4Kids and Mirage Studios — will continue to air on “TheCW4Kids” Saturday morning programming block on the CW network through Aug. 31.

The characters, created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman, first appeared in a May 1984 comicbook.

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