Blazing Saddles is Being Remade as an Animated Feature With Mel Brooks’s Blessing

By  · Published on February 6th, 2015

Warner Bros.

Among the movies I was sure couldn’t be remade today, Blazing Saddles is near the top. But here we are, more than 40 years and a lot of political correctness later and Deadline reports that Open Road has acquired an upcoming feature “loosely based” on the Mel Brooks comedy. How loosely? Well, this version is titled Blazing Samurai. Okay, that makes sense. Akira Kurosawa and others have reworked Westerns as samurai films, so this seems like a perfectly reasonable, traditional move. Also, this version is animated. And the characters are dogs and cats.

Hey, why shouldn’t the whole family get to enjoy a classic satire on racism without all the ethnic slurs, sexual humor and horse punching? Take all that away and you’re left with a sweet story of “a scrappy young dog named Hank who fights to save the town of Kakamucho from becoming the litter box of a nefarious feline warlord, transforming society and himself on his quest to become a true samurai” and a has-been samurai cat named Yojimbo who is “fastest blade in the East.” I bet the campfire bean-eating scene is retained, though. Kids love fart gags.

At the helm of Blazing Samurai are Chris Bailey, an Oscar nominee for his 1995 Mickey Mouse short, Runaway Brain, who more recently supervised animation for the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies, and Mark Koetsier, an animator whose most recent gig was storyboard artist on last year’s Mr. Peabody and Sherman making his directorial debut. They both also worked on The Lion King with that film’s co-director Rob Minkoff (also behind the Mr. Peabody and Sherman feature), who is one of the producers of this remake alongside Yair Landau (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs).

GFM Films

If you’re curious about what Brooks might think of this crazy turn of events, he actually mentioned the project in an interview with Vulture back in 2012. “It sounded cute to me,” he told the site. “It’s okay with me. I’ve got the originals. I’ve got the negatives. I’ve got the Real McCoy. If their version doesn’t work well, that’s okay. Let ’em try. I’m not going to stop anybody who has a great love for one of my movies and wants to try their version.”

In a Screen Daily report on the project from last fall, a quote from Landau promises a “broadly appealing family film that marries a classic western narrative with brilliant Japanese visuals,” while Minkoff stresses the strange combination involved is something he’s passionate about: “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 set to hit theaters on April 14, 2017. Check out a full synopsis via GFM Films below.

In a land of cats, a long time ago…

The felines of Kakamucho are about to have their litter boxes shaken up when their new Samurai turns up and he’s not quite what they expected…HE’S A DOG!

Hank, a scrappy, wide-eyed pooch on the run, scrambles ashore with dreams of becoming a Samurai like his kitty heroes. There’s just one problem: he doesn’t QUITE fit in. But he is the perfect pawn for a scheming warlord named Ika Chu, who is after Kakamucho’s land and needs the townscats out of his way. What better way to chase out a bunch of cats than a dog!

Hank rolls in to Kakamucho large and in charge, but is quickly taken down a peg when confronted by a hornets’ nest of furious townscats – he’s no Samurai, he’s a dog! His only champion is Emiko, a young kitten with her own dreams of becoming a Samurai. This is going to be a lot harder than Hank expected.

Luckily, friends and training turn up in unlikely places. Hank finds the town outcast, a catnip-addled former swordsman named Yojimbo, who gives him a crash-course, literally, in how to be a Samurai. With a little grit, determination, and his own canine style, Hank becomes a true Samurai and teaches his new compatriots a big lesson: it doesn’t matter where you come from, but who you are inside.

Cats and dogs living together. Action. Comedy. Hysteria.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.