The franchise began as a comic book,Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which Eastman and Laird conceived as a parody of elements popular insuperhero comicsat the time. The first issue was published in 1984 by Eastman and Laird's companyMirage Studiosand was a surprise success. In 1987, Eastman and Laird licensed the characters toPlaymates Toys, which developed aline ofTurtlesaction figures. About US$1.1 billion ofTurtlestoys were sold between 1988 and 1992, making them the third-bestselling toy figures ever at the time.
The action figures were promoted with ananimated series, which premiered in 1987 and ran for almost a decade. In some European regions, the word "ninja" in the name was replaced with "hero" for its violent connotations. Three live-action films were released; thefirst filmbecame the highest-grossingindependent filmup to that point. In 2009, the franchise was purchased byViacom, nowParamount Global. Viacom commissioned anew comic series, two new live-action films, and new animated series.
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