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‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ fans upset by 9/11 poster art

Paramount retracted the Australian promotional poster, but the damage was done. 


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 29, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 9:13 pm CDT

It’s easy to make fun of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. The trailer looks like a Michael Bay parody and frightens children, and the first set of movie posters were weirdly phallic.

The latest TMNT problem, however, is less funny and more just offensive.

In a now-deleted tweet from Paramount Pictures, the Australian TMNT poster was revealed to be more than a little insensitive. The image showed the four turtles leaping from the roof of an exploding building, but Paramount’s poster designers had failed to take into account the film’s Australian release date: Sept. 11.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 9/11 poster

Really? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles jump out of fiery NY tower in poster for film released Sep 11 #TMNT #TMNTMovie

— Suzanne Carbone (@SuzanneCarbone) July 29, 2014

@RealNickHodge @leslienassar is that starfish shape near Donatello a person being jettisoned violently from the building O_o

— Sophie G (@SophieAG) July 29, 2014

He’s already got a hilariously insensitive track record: “black” Transformers who can’t read, robot balls, and now, 9/11-causing TMNT.

— Patriotic Half-Eagle (@ValTalonheart) July 29, 2014

After a couple of hours of the poster being passed around by horrified Twitter users, Paramount Pictures removed the original tweet. But by then the damage was already done.

The simplest explanation for this poster is that Paramount simply took a pre-existing image and slapped the Australian release date on top. However, it’s not as if 9/11 is completely unknown outside the U.S. The studio should definitely have noticed the importance of the date—and the unfortunate connotations of the poster art . As it is, the poster chalks up to another mistake in TMNT’s ever-growing list of weird marketing decisions.

Photo via Paramount Pictures

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*First Published: Jul 29, 2014, 10:04 am CDT