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Weinsteins try ‘Ninja’ moves

CGI-animated 'Turtles' set for release in early 2007

Marking its first studio partnership outside of Walt Disney, the Weinstein Co. has pacted with Warner Bros. to distribute the first all-CGI-animated “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

As-yet-untitled pic, set for release in early 2007, would return the franchise to the bigscreen for the first time since 1993. It continues the “Turtles” revival that began three years ago with the bow of a new TV strip.

The trio of live-action “Turtles” films New Line released in the early 1990s grossed more than $256 million overall at the U.S. box office.

“Reintroducing the Ninja Turtles in an animated movie will enable the filmmakers to fully realize the adventure and humor of the property,” Weinstein said.

New CGI-animated movie will be grittier than its predecessors, taking its tone directly from the comicbook series. It will be aimed at PG auds.

“We think that a new generation of kids will love discovering ‘Turtles,’ especially supported by the enthusiasm of fans of the original movies, comicbooks and TV shows,” Warner Bros. Pictures prexy Jeff Robinov said.

Animation vet Kevin Munroe will write and direct. Munroe is developing the screenplay in consultation with “Turtles” comicbook co-creator Peter Laird.

Weinstein Co. and Warners acquired the worldwide film distribution rights from Imagi Services. It obtained production and distribution rights from the Mirage Group, which owns and manages the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles property.

CGI animation will be created in Imagi’s facility in Hong Kong.

Imagi USA prexy-CEO Tom Gray, who produced two of the earlier “Turtles” films, and Galen Walker are producing. Francis Kao, Laird, Gary Richardson and Frederick Fierst are exec producers.

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