If there was anything that we could discern from the number of new animation studios in 2014, it’s that right now it seems as if everyone wants in. On that note, we bring you a news report of an upcoming movie that sounds a little different from the norm, from a studio that also does things quite differently.
Multiple sources have reported recently that Open Road Films, who distributed last year’s The Nut Job, has picked up the U.S. distribution rights to a CG-animated film titled Blazing Samurai.
Based very loosely off Mel Brooks’ 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles, the film will revolve around Hank, a young dog who travels to an all-cat populated small town in Ancient Japan to fulfill his dreams of becoming a samurai. Beginning his training under the guise of the once-great samurai cat named Jimbo, Hank must overcome species-based prejudice while learning to be a great warrior, all while saving the town from the claws of a nefarious feline warlord in the process.
Chris Bailey (Runaway Brain, animation director on the live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks films) and veteran animator/story artist Chris Koetsier will direct the film from a screenplay by Ed Stone and Nate Hopper.
Blazing Samurai is the first feature production from Mass Animation. Founded by Yair Landau (a former Sony Pictures exec), Mass Animation is renowned for using a crowdsourced model to fund its projects.
Rob Minkoff (The Lion King, Mr. Peabody and Sherman) will produce the film through his Cinemation production banner, while Yair Landau and Susan Purcell will produce the film for Mass Animation.
Speaking to ScreenDaily, Landau said of the project: “Blazing Samurai is a broadly appealing family film that marries a classic western narrative with brilliant Japanese visuals. We are fortunate to be working with a truly top notch team of experienced artists who are bringing to life a uniquely compelling story.”
Rob Minkoff also gave his comments, saying: “I am thrilled to serve as a producer on this very exciting project,” said Minkoff. “I’ve always loved classic Japanese Samurai movies and Mel Brooks. It may not be the most obvious combination but that’s what they said about the teriyaki bagel. ’Blazing Samurai’ is a very funny action-comedy and I hope global audiences will come along for the ride.”
While it actually sounds like a decent premise, in my view, the decision to base it on a film like Blazing Saddles is… intriguing, to say the least. Suffice it to say, the type of humor on display in Blazing Saddles would be nigh-impossible to get away with in today’s society, much less in the world of animation. So what safer way to translate some of the more racial aspects of the film over into animation than into the world of talking animals!
Budgeted at $40 Million, Blazing Samurai is currently in production with a release date of April 14, 2017.
What do you think? Are you interested in Blazing Samurai? What are your thoughts about yet another new, untested animation studio stepping in?
Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden