COWABUNGA! The "heroes in a half shell" just hit the Salt Lake area, and faithful fans are lining up to cheer on the latest adventure of the pizza-eating, sewer-dwelling foursome.

To welcome Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo, the Trolley Square Cinemas' lobby was decorated in sewer slime and the theater employees wore turtle headbands and promotional buttons.The movie, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze," opened in five Utah theaters Friday, said Bill Sadler, district manager for Utah and Idaho of Cineplex Odeon. "This is fabulous. They started calling two weeks ago for tickets. We expect this show to break the record as far as attendance goes," Sadler said. A few parents have told him their children couldn't sleep because they were so excited to see the turtles.

Sadler said he expects his shows in town to be sold out all weekend - though they weren't sold out Friday at Trolley Square.

"Ninja Turtles are cool, dude," Michael Chatwin, 12, said after the show. "I watch "Ninja Turtles" (the cartoon) all the time. Michelangelo is my favorite because he's really funny and after every fight he always goes `Cowabunga!' He takes every thing as a joke."

"I thought the movie was pretty good. I like Donatello because of his weapon (a Bo staff)," Ben Killpack, 12, said. "I wish I could do karate." Both boys thought a Vanilla Ice song and turtle dance was the best part of the show.

"It was really good. It had action," said Travis Nicholaides, 9. His mom said she liked it, too.

"It was pretty entertaining - a lot better than the first one," said his mother, Vicky. She said her children like the turtle movies, but they haven't clamored to buy toy figures or any other Ninja Turtle paraphernalia.

"It was funny. I think I liked all the parts the best," said Kenna Crump, 6. "I liked the dancing part." She said Raphael was her favorite because "he's cute and funny."

"I came in late, so I can't really judge, but the rap dancing was the best part, I'm sure," said MarDella Crump, Kenna's grandmother.


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Turtles snub big-city ways

The movie mavens in Los Angeles and New York were snubbed by the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who chose Northampton, Mass., for the East Coast premiere of the gang's latest movie.

Turtle co-creators Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman invited 800 guests to the Thursday night preview of "The Secret of the Ooze."

"I've been to New York, to L.A., but home here in Northampton is the best because it was in front of 800 friends and family," said Laird.