Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStuart Gillard
Written byStuart Gillard
Based on
Produced by
  • Thomas K. Gray
  • Kim Dawson
  • David Chan
CinematographyDavid Gurfinkel
Edited by
  • William D. Gordean
  • James R. Symons
Music byJohn Du Prez
Distributed by
Release date
  • March 19, 1993 (1993-03-19) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes
  • United States
  • Hong Kong
Budget$21 million[1]
Box office$54.4 million[2]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III is a 1993 American superhero action comedy film based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Written and directed by Stuart Gillard, it is the sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991), and the third and final installment in the original Turtles film trilogy. It stars Elias Koteas, Paige Turco, Vivian Wu, Sab Shimono, and Stuart Wilson with the voices of Brian Tochi, Robbie Rist, Corey Feldman, and Tim Kelleher. The plot revolves around the "Sacred Sands of Time", a mystical scepter which transports the Turtles and April back in time to feudal Japan, where they become embroiled in a conflict between a daimyō and a group of rebellious villagers.

The film was released theatrically in the United States on March 19, 1993, by New Line Cinema. It received mostly negative reviews with a general consensus from the critics that the film did not feature any villains and stories from the original Mirage comics or the 1987 animated series. It received moderate box office success, though it was the lowest-grossing entry in the series, grossing $54.4 million against a budget of $21 million. An animated film called TMNT was released in 2007 by Warner Bros. Pictures, and acknowledges the prior live-action films. The film series was completely rebooted with 2014's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, released by Paramount Pictures, following the acquisition of the franchise by Viacom.


This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. Please help improve it by removing unnecessary details and making it more concise. (October 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

In 1603 feudal Japan, four samurai on horseback chase a young man into the woods. A mysterious woman hidden in the underbrush watches closely. The samurai capture the youth, who is revealed to be a prince named Kenshin.

In the present, April O'Neil buys gifts for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while shopping at a flea market. At their underground lair, April gives Michelangelo an old lamp, Donatello an old radio, Leonardo a book on swords, and a fedora hat for Raphael. Splinter receives an ancient Japanese scepter.

Back in the past, Lord Norinaga berates his son, Kenshin, for disgracing their family name. Kenshin argues that his father's desire for war is the true disgrace. When an English trader named Walker arrives to supply Norinaga with added manpower and firearms, Kenshin leaves to brood alone in a temple. There, he finds the scepter and reads the inscription: "Open Wide the Gates of Time".

The scepter that April is holding lights up and she is sent into the past as Kenshin takes her place; each is wearing what the other wore in their own time. Walker imprisons April after deducing she is not a witch and is powerless. Back in the present, Kenshin thinks the Turtles are "kappa". After Kenshin explains the time swap, the Turtles decide to rescue April. But according to Donatello's calculations, they only have 60 hours to rescue her before the scepter's power disappears. Meanwhile, Casey Jones will watch over Kenshin and the lair. As the turtles warp through time, they are replaced by four of Norinaga's Honor Guards.

The Turtles land in the past dressed as Honor Guards riding horses. Amid the confusion, Michelangelo rides into the forest and is ambushed by the mysterious woman, Mitsu. An unseen person takes the scepter from him. The other Turtles go to Norinaga's castle and rescue April and also free Whit, a prisoner resembling Casey. In the woods, the Turtles, April, and Whit are attacked by villagers mistaking them for Norinaga's forces. Mitsu, the leader of the rebellion against Lord Norinaga, unmasks Raphael and sees that he looks like her prisoner. Realizing Michelangelo is her captive, the Turtles accompany Mitsu to her village. Upon arriving, Walker's men are burning the village. As the Turtles help the villagers save it, Michelangelo is freed and joins the fight. Walker is forced to retreat, but the fire has trapped Mitsu's brother. A young boy named Yoshi inside a house. Michelangelo saves Yoshi, then Leonardo helps him recover by performing CPR; this earns the Turtles the villagers' gratitude and respect.

Walker bargains with Lord Norinaga over weapons for gold. Michelangelo consoles Mitsu about Kenshin, whom she loves. In the present, Casey tries to help the Honor Guards adjust to the 20th Century, while Kenshin and Splinter fear the Ninja Turtles will not return before the sixty hours are up.

In the past, Donatello has a replica scepter made, but Michelangelo and Raphael break it during an argument. Mitsu informs them that Lord Norinaga is buying Walker's guns and will attack the village the next morning. Raphael discovers that Yoshi has the original scepter. The Turtles are angry at Mitsu for hiding it and forcing them to fight her war. However, Mitsu's grandfather admits it was his idea for the Turtles to fight in her place.

Whit betrays everyone, captures Mitsu, and steals the scepter. The Turtles go to the palace to rescue Mitsu but are cornered by Norinaga and his soldiers. The Turtles free all prisoners, who join the battle. After lengthy fighting, Leonardo defeats Lord Norinaga in a sword duel. Walker escapes with the scepter, but is trapped at the boat dock. Walker throws the scepter into the air, but the Turtles catch it. Whit, who switched his alliance after Walker betrayed him, launches a flaming boulder from a wooden catapult at Walker, knocking him off the dock to his death in the crashing river below.

Michelangelo and Raphael want to stay in the past, feeling appreciated there. When Kenshin activates the scepter, their decision becomes urgent. Mitsu reminds Michelangelo of his promise to return Kenshin to his own time. Michelangelo reluctantly agrees, but he misses grabbing the scepter and is left behind as the Honor Guards switch back with the Turtles. The remaining Honor Guard activates the scepter and swaps places with Michelangelo just before the scepter burns out.

Norinaga surrenders to Mitsu, and Kenshin is given the scepter; the two lovers are reunited. Meanwhile, Michelangelo is depressed about growing up. Splinter cheers him up by performing an Elvis Presley impression, and the other Turtles join in with a final dance number.


Live action

Voice cast

Rist and Tochi, who voice Michelangelo and Leonardo, respectively, are the only actors to voice the same characters in all three live-action TMNT movies. Corey Feldman returned as the voice of Donatello after being absent for the second movie.



Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedMarch 9, 1993 (1993-03-09)
ProducerPete Ganbarg
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Film Soundtrack chronology
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II The Secret of the Ooze: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
TMNT: Music from the Motion Picture

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released by SBK Records on March 9, 1993.[3] It features the tracks "Tarzan Boy" by Baltimora and "Can't Stop Rockin'" by ZZ Top.

Track listing

1."Tarzan Boy[4]"
2."Can't Stop Rockin'"ZZ Top3:03
3."Rockin' Over the Beat"Technotronic featuring Ya Kid K5:47
4."Conga"Enrique E. GarciaThe Barrio Boyzz4:43
5."Turtle Jam"
Psychedelic Dust featuring Loose Bruce3:59
6."Fighter"Rose WindrossDefinition of Sound5:44
7.""Yoshi's Theme"John Du PrezJohn Du Prez and Ocean Music3:24
8."Turtle Power"
  • James P. Alpern
  • Richard A. Usher Jr.
Partners in Kryme4:22
9."Tarzan Boy" (Remix)
  • Bassi
  • Hackett
10."Rockin' Over the Beat" (Rockin' Over Manchester Hacienda Remix)
  • Bogaert
  • Kamosi
Technotronic featuring Ya Kid K6:33
Total length:45:01


Home media

As with both of the previous films, the British PG version was censored due to usage of forbidden weapons (Michelangelo's nunchaku). For these scenes, alternate material was used. The cuts were waived for the DVD release.[5] The German theatrical and video version was based on the censored UK cut; the DVD is uncut.

The film was released to VHS and Laserdisc in 1993.[6][7]

The film has been released on DVD, and also two Blu-ray box sets with both of its predecessors. Some home media releases label the film as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles in Time on their front cover.


Principal photography began on June 15 and August 5, 1992[citation needed]


Box office

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III debuted at number 1 at the U.S. box office with a gross of $12.4 million from 2,087 screens.[8][9] The film grossed $42.2 million in the United States and Canada,[1] and $12.2 internationally, giving a worldwide gross of $54.4 million.[2]

Critical response

The film holds a 19% approval rating and has an average rating of 4.10/10 on Rotten Tomatoes based on 32 reviews, with the consensus: "It's a case of one sequel too many for the heroes in a half shell, with a tired time-travel plot gimmick failing to save the franchise from rapidly diminishing returns".[10] On Metacritic it has a score of 40 out of 100 based on reviews from 12 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[11]

Michael Wilmington of Los Angeles Times noted that distributors deliberately kept the film away from critics. Despite mild praise for the look of the film, Wilmington called the first film a fluke hit and called this third film "sequel hell".[12] James Berardinelli gave it one out of four stars, citing that "any adults accompanying their kids will have to invent new and interesting ways to stay awake. Not only is this movie aimed at young children, the script could have been written by them".[13] TV Guide gave it two out of four stars and said in their review: "If the time-travel gimmick has to be employed twice in a row then it's probably best to banish these characters to a retirement sewer",[14] when commenting about a possible future film invoking time travel.

TMNT co-creator Peter Laird mentioned in the 2014's Turtle Power documentary that he disliked the film, and Kevin Eastman noted the efforts taken to create it.

What we tried to do with the third movie was to make it as good of a story as we could. We went through a painstaking level of do's and don'ts, what they could and couldn't do. We wanted something that would be good for all ages again. I call movie one the best, movie two the worst, and movie three halfway in between.

— Kevin Eastman (2014)[15]


There were early plans for a fourth installment. Playmates toy catalogues indicated a fourth film would be released in 1996 but it never materialized. A script titled TMNT IV: The Foot Walks Again was written by Craig Shapiro and John Travis, while Peter Laird has released concept designs for a version which he says would have been titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: The Next Mutation. Instead, the TV series Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation was produced from 1997 to 1998, sharing little with the prior concept work beside the subtitle.

The next theatrical release is a 2007 CGI animated film titled TMNT which references the prior live-action films.

After Viacom bought the franchise in 2009, Paramount Pictures produced and released a reboot in 2014.


  1. ^ a b "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Klady, Leonard (January 3, 1994). "Warner Bros. tops hot box office 100". Variety. p. 42.
  3. ^ "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". Allmusic. 1993. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  4. ^ "Billboard 1993" (PDF). worldradiohistory.com. Billboard Hot 100. April 10, 1993. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 27, 2021. Retrieved April 21, 2023.
  5. ^ Wurm, Gerald. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (Comparison: BBFC PG VHS - BBFC PG DVD) - Movie-Censorship.com". Movie-censorship.com. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  6. ^ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. Worldcat. 1993. OCLC 28461446.
  7. ^ "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III". LDDB. 1993. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Weekend Box Office Ninja Turtles Capture Top Spot". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  9. ^ "Weekend Box Office Ninja Turtles' Are Still Power Dudes". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-09.
  10. ^ "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  11. ^ "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III". Metacritic.
  12. ^ Michael Wilmington (March 22, 1993). "No Spark in Samurai-Style 'Ninja Turtles'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2012-10-11. Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  13. ^ "Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III". preview.reelviews.net. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  15. ^ Farago, Kevin (24 June 2014). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History. Insight Comics. p. 121. ISBN 978-1608871858.