“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” begins with a montage on the streets of New York. A pickpocket steals a man’s wallet, and it is immediately passed to an accomplice. It seems a whole network of pickpockets is operating in the city, passing wallets from one to the other rapidly and expertly. The tone is that of a ’70s crime movie, not a whimsical mutant adventure. Ninjas are also stalking the streets in the shadows, perpetuating a mysterious crime ring. The Turtles stop a crime and then, as the movie’s upbeat theme music kicks in, shout words of positivity as they enthusiastically return to their home in the sewers. Their first appearance astonished many a child.
But, as Josh Pais pointed out, the actors were wearing their full-body suits and shooting on a wet floor in the dark. It seems that the filmmakers didn’t count on the effect the water would have on the latex ensembles, and Pais recalled every problem they encountered. He said:
“The first thing we shot might have been when you first see the Turtles walking through the sewer and coming into where they live. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. There was water on the ground and we realized the latex was very slippery. We’d be going along, and one of us would wipe out. That opening sequence took about eight or nine hours. Things would break down.”
The opening sequence, all told, is only about two minutes long.