There’s a lot to unpack with this story, but we’ll start with the main bit. Blazing Samurai has secured extra funding and will be coming to fruition after all. Originally announced in 2015 (and promptly forgotten over the years), this project is an animated re-imagining of Blazing Saddles that stars a dog in a town full of cats. I wish this was all some horrible hoax brought on by a lack of social interaction, but we can’t be that lucky.
LA-based production company Align has signed on to contribute additional funds to the project, which is stated to have a budget of $46 million. The film is currently in production at Aniventure in Cinesite’s Montréal and Vancouver facilities with an expected completion/release of summer 2021. These funds are basically news that the film is happening, whether we like it or not.
Nadia Khamlichi, the co-founder of Align, said, “We’ve always been passionate about animation and are thrilled to be taking part in Blazing Samurai. The combination of Rob and Mark as outstanding animation creatives, the industry expertise of Aniventure, GFM Animation and Cinesite delivering amazing production value on screen, assembled around such a hilarious action-packed family script will make Blazing Samurai one of the key animated films of 2021.”
Adrian Politowski, the other co-founder, added, “With the arrival of COVID-19 across Europe and North America, our team came together to shift our strategy to meet the limitations of the new filmmaking landscape. It was a natural step for us to shift our focus to high-end commercial animation projects. Blazing Samurai is the first of more to come.”
The official story description is that Hank, a loveable mutt, dreams of becoming a samurai. On his quest to accomplish this, he winds up working as the sheriff of Kakamucho but comes to find the town is completely inhabited by cats. The voice cast for the project includes Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Rickey Gervais, George Takei, Michelle Yeoh (!!!), Djimon Hounsou, and Mel Brooks.
I’m kind of at a loss for words here. I really doubt Blazing Samurai will be pushing any of the censorship boundaries that its inspiration did, but then I also have to wonder what the point of re-imagining that film is. This just seems like some weird vanity project, but then I love that Michelle Yeoh is getting work in Hollywood. She deserves it.