Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Cera And Mel Brooks Lead An All-Star Voice Cast For "Blazing Samurai" That Also Includes George Takei, Gabriel Iglesias, Aasif Mandvi, Djimon Hounsou, Mel B. and Michelle Yeoh, Among Others

Early Animation Footage and Visual Development to be shown at AFM as Open Road Dates the Highly Anticipated Animated Feature From Mass Animation, Huayi Brothers Media Corporation, Flying Tigers Entertainment, and GFM Films Into The Summer On August 4, 2017

Nov 03, 2015, 16:28 ET from Mass Animation

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Blazing Samurai, the highly-anticipated animated family comedy from Mass Animation, Huayi Brothers Media Corporation, Flying Tigers Entertainment, and GFM Films has cast Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Cera and Mel Brooks along with George Takei, Gabriel Iglesias, Aasif Mandvi, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh, Sandra Tsing Loh, Mel B., and introducing Heavenly Joy Jerkins.  The film is being produced by the acclaimed director of The Lion King and Stuart Little, Rob Minkoff, along with long-time animation industry executive and President and Founder of Mass Animation Yair Landau (Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs) and producer Susan Purcell (Mother Up!). Executive producers include Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein), Reginald Hudlin (Academy Award nominated producer of Django Unchained) and Pietro Ventani. Blazing Samurai is directed by Chris Bailey (Alvin And The Chipmunks) and Mark Koetsier (Kung Fu Panda, How To Train Your Dragon) from a screenplay by Ed Stone and Nate Hopper. 

Blazing Samurai is an action-packed animated comedy about a scrappy dreamer of a dog named Hank (voiced by Michael Cera) who longs to become a great warrior and 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.

The film is equally inspired by and an homage to Mel Brooks' timeless, hilarious classic Blazing Saddles. GFM Films is handling international sales and will be hosting a presentation about the production with a sneak peak at some very early footage at AFM on November 4.

Blazing Samurai will be released by Open Road Films in the United States on August 4, 2017. Sony Pictures International Releasing has already picked up several major territories worldwide, and Huayi Brothers Media Corporation is distributing the film in Greater China.

Samuel L. Jackson is set to voice JIMBO, a cat who once was a great warrior who now lives life hitting the catnip a bit too hard.  Despite his addled state, JIMBO reluctantly takes lovable mutt HANK under his wing and teaches him the cunning, courageous and warrior-like ways of the samurai. Forging an unusual friendship between a cat and a dog, the two set off on a wild and hilarious journey to save the town of Kakamucho whilst at the same time learning what it means to be a true, great samurai.

The fur will fly with this cast, which also includes the legendary Mel Brooks as the voice of the SHOGUN, the misguided but benevolent leader. George Takei will lend his inimitable baritone voice to OHGA, the villain's enforcer. Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy, How to Train Your Dragon) voices SUMO, the gentle giant. Aasif Mandvi (Spider-Man 2, The Internship) and Gabriel Iglesias (The Nut Job, Planes) will star as ICHIRO and CHUCK, Kakamucho's Laurel and Hardy towncats, with Sandra Tsing Loh (Chicken Little) as LITTLE MAMA, Kakamucho's cranky grande dame. Introducing 5 year-old America's Got Talent sensation, Heavenly Joy Jerkins, as EMIKO, the feisty kitten who is a natural warrior, with Michelle Yeoh voicing YUKI, Emiko's over-protective mom. And Mel B (Spice Girls, America's Got Talent) serves up a great cameo as THE GIRAFFE, who sees herself as a cat. 

"We've assembled some extraordinarily strong comedic talent for the cast of this fresh, fun and irreverent animated family film," said Minkoff. "From the artistic ambition to the East meets West style of story-telling, everyone involved in creating Blazing Samurai is having a blast."

"Throughout the recording sessions from Mel Brooks to Mel B, this cast has not only met the humor, but raised the level of comedy and heart in this unique homage to Blazing Saddles," said Landau. "Ed and Nate delivered a first-rate script in Blazing Samurai, a story about cats and dogs getting along that will appeal to everyone whether they've seen the original comedy classic or not."

"When I first read Blazing Samurai,it bounced me back to my first experience of the joy of animated films," said Michael Ryan, partner at GFM Films. "It's clever, it's hilariously funny, and it has pathos. I think that is why we have such great actors joining the cast. It's such a great piece of writing. We are thrilled with the way our partners have already embraced this film and look forward to sharing more at AFM during our special presentation on Wednesday."

"There is no business like Shogun business," said Mel Brooks. "And what is wonderful about the film is that it is going to have great appeal not only for kids, but their parents too. It's funny and smart."

Earlier this year, Open Road Films acquired U.S. distribution rights for the film. Filmmakers and talent, including Minkoff, Landau and Mel Brooks, will showcase footage and visual development from the forthcoming film during the special AFM presentation.

Early development and pre-production funding was provided by GFM Films with Mass Animation through Blazing Productions Ltd, a UK-based production company with equity funding through White & Co. and Ober Wealth Management.

Arc Productions (Gnomeo & Juliet, 9), one of the world's leading CG animation and visual effects studios is the lead animation house on the film. The company has deployed a growing crew of talented artists, animators and expert technical directors to bring the creative ambition and artistry of Blazing Samurai to life on the big screen.

Mass Animation, founded by Yair Landau, former Sony Pictures Vice Chairman, develops and produces animation content for theatrical, television, and digital distribution, including creating "crowd-sourced" high quality CG animation collaborating with artists around the world to create the next generation of great stories. Mass Animation designed and developed the first truly virtual global animation pipeline, initially launched as an application on Facebook.

Mass Animation projects include:  Live Music, the first ever theatrically released crowd sourced animated film; Mother Up!, a Hulu original series starring Eva Longoria as well as work with DC Universe Online and Cirque du Soleil.  

Huayi Brothers Media Group Corporation is one of China's largest and most successful film and television studios. Over the past several years, Huayi Brothers has grown well-beyond film and television production and distribution with expanding businesses in talent management, gaming, new media, and theme parks. Recently in 2015, Huayi closed a major co-financing deal with Robert Simonds' STX Entertainment, highlighting the growing business between Hollywood and China.

Flying Tigers Entertainment is the Multi-Platform Film and Animation production company founded by Rob Minkoff. After working for Walt Disney Feature Animation for twelve years culminating in the release of the internationally acclaimed animated blockbuster, The Lion King, Rob left Disney to direct Stuart Little which pioneered the combination of Live Action and CGI character animation. His most recent release, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, is based on characters created by Jay Ward.

Flying Tigers Entertainment is currently developing a slate of Animation and Live Action projects for theatrical, television and online distribution.

GFM Films is a London based film company whose principal aim is to develop, produce, finance and sell independent movies and television films & series.

Founded in March 2011 by Guy Collins, Fred Hedman and Michael Ryan, the company takes film & television projects from development through to completion and delivery to distributors. 

The 3 partners broadly divide their activities as follows: Fred Hedman – distribution sales & licensing; Michael Ryan – new project development & creative control; and Guy Collins – financing and management.  In addition, a fourth corporate member, Hencohbla Ltd, joined the partnership in 2011.  They are supported by an expanding team, including Amanda Kerridge (Marketing Director) and Eamon Sullivan (Finance Director).

Collins and Ryan have between them financed, sold and produced over 200 films, including  The Wild Geese, The English Patient, The General, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Osterman Weekend, the 'Highlander' film and TV series, Planet 51 and more recently, with Hedman, Toei Animation's 'Harlock, Absolutely Anything starring Simon Pegg and Kate Beckinsale, plus the voices of the Monty Python team and Robin Williams.  Current movies include family animations Blazing Samurai, Hugo & Stonerunner and the Simon West directed Stratton, which recently wrapped principal photography and features an exciting cast line up including Dominic Cooper, Gemma Chan and Austin Stowell.

Open Road Films is a leading, independent, theatrical motion picture company, releasing a diverse slate of star-driven films, which has included multiple #1 releases. It was founded in 2011 by AMC Entertainment Inc. (AMC) and Regal Entertainment Group (Regal), the two largest theatrical exhibition companies in the United States. Open Road Films and its lenders recently extended the company's $100,000,000 credit facility through 2018.

Past releases include: Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, which took the #1 spot at the box-office during its opening week and received an Oscar® nomination for Best Original Screenplay, along with a Golden Globe nomination – it was named one of the best films of 2014 by the AFI and National Board of Review and top critics nationwide; the hit film Chef, written by, directed by and starring Jon Favreau along with Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey, Jr.; The Nut Job, which opened to over $25 million at the box office as the highest ever opening for an independent animated film; The Grey, directed by Joe Carnahan and starring Liam Neeson, which opened #1 at the box office; End Of Watch, directed by David Ayer and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, which opened #1 at the box office; Rosewater, written and directed by Jon Stewart; A Haunted House starring Marlon Wayans; and Side Effects, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum.

Upcoming releases include:  Spotlight (11/6/15), the critically acclaimed film directed by Tom McCarthy, starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian D'Arcy James, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci; Fifty Shades Of Black (1/29/16), starring Marlon Wayans; Triple 9, a thriller directed by John Hillcoat starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet, Gal Gadot, Norman Reedus, Teresa Palmer and Clifton Collins, Jr. (2/19/16); the Garry Marshall-directed romantic- comedy Mother's Day (4/29/16), starring Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, and Jason Sudeikis; Snowden (5/13/16), written and directed by Oliver Stone starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley; Sleepless Night, starring Jamie Foxx and Michelle Monaghan; Bleed for This, starring Miles Teller, Katey Sagal and Aaron Eckhart, directed by Ben Younger; and Blazing Samurai (8/4/2017), the animated comedy being produced by The Lion King director Rob Minkoff, Yair Landau, and Susan Purcell

Arc Productions (Gnomeo & Juliet, 9) creates the highest quality CG animation for the world's leading producers, major Hollywood studios, broadcasters and brands. Situated in downtown Toronto, Arc is a Canadian company with a team of over 500 creative and innovative experts that brings the world's most beloved characters and stories to life.  For more information, please visit:  Contact Nahleena Tye,

For further information:

Steve Elzer
Elzer & Associates
(213) 607-3591


SOURCE Mass Animation