Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film retreats back into its shell

It should have been Hollywood's new cash cow, the latest iteration of a franchise that has produced films, TV series and comic books. However, the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film has been shelved – perhaps indefinitely, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The move follows a fan backlash earlier this year against plans to change the origins story of its four "heroes in a halfshell".

Official word suggests that the film which is being developed by Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes company, has been shut down owing to issues with the script. Originally due for December 2013, Jonathan Liebesman's film has now been pushed back to May 2014, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Preproduction staff, however, were told the film had been shelved for an "indefinite" period.

Fans took to Twitter and Facebook earlier this year to criticise plans to change the turtles to "lovable aliens" rather than mutants who gain anthropomorphic powers after encountering radioactive ooze, as in the original comic book, TV series and films. Bay himself became so annoyed he issued a statement calling for fans to "take a breath, and chill".

Bay said: "They have not read the script. Our team is working closely with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles to help expand and give a more complex back story. Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place. We are just building a richer world."

Ninja Turtles had also drawn criticism from actor Robbie Rist, who voiced Michelangelo in the original 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. He accused Bay of "sodomising" the much-loved characters, adding: "I know believing in mutated talking turtles is kinda silly to begin with but am I supposed to be led to believe there are ninjas from another planet? The rape of our childhood memories continues."