Blazing Saddles is getting a remake. The 1974 Mel Brooks classic is being reimagined, moving its setting from the old west to an animated tale set in the time of the samurai, with cats being pit against dogs. It will be aptly titled Blazing Samurai.
"We've always been passionate about animation and are thrilled to be taking part in Blazing Samurai," a statement from Align co-founder Adrian Politowski read, via CBR. "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."
Mark Koetsier will direct the film, and Rob Minkoff, who directed 1994's The Lion King, will produce. The voice cast includes Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, George Takei, Michelle Yeoh, Djimon Hounsou and Mel Brooks himself.
In the original, a Black man, Black Bart (Cleavon Little) is made sheriff of the small town of Rock Ridge, with the intention of driving away the townspeople for the benefit of a railroad magnate. While shunned at first, Black Bart eventually befriends Jim, also known as The Waco Kid (the late Gene Wilder). When they discover the nefarious plot, they eventually win the trust of the townspeople and work together to save their homes.
Richard Pryor was initially slated for the role of Black Bart, but his reputation for drug use prompted the studio to deem him uninsurable. The part went to Little, but Richards remained credited as a writer. The Waco Kid was originally offered to John Wayne, who passed due to the incredibly lewd nature of the script (though Wayne professed to be a fan).
While it's widely regarded as a classic now, it wasn't overwhelmingly loved by critics at first. It did, however, earn a trio of Oscar nominations that year. Madeline Kahn was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, though she lost to Ingrid Bergman in Murder on the Orient Express. It also scored nods for Best Film Editing and Best Original Song, though both lost to the disaster flick The Towering Inferno. In 2006, the Library of Congress deemed the raunchy western/comedy "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and was added to the National Film Registry.