EXCLUSIVE: Adrian Politowski’s LA-based Align has come aboard to contribute production financing on animated comedy Blazing Samurai. The $46M toon is a re-imagining of Mel Brooks’ classic Blazing Saddles and is currently in CG production with Aniventure at Cinesite’s Montréal and Vancouver facilities. Completion is expected for late summer 2021. Rob Minkoff and Adam Nagle are producers.
The story, directed by Mark Koetsier, follows Hank, a loveable mutt with big dreams of becoming a Samurai. When he finds himself with a new job as sheriff of Kakamucho, he also finds he may have bitten off more than he can chew given the town is inhabited solely by cats.
The voice cast includes Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, George Takei, Michelle Yeoh, Djimon Hounsou and Brooks.
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Blazing Samurai was originally mooted in 2015, but got held up when animation studio Arc was put into receivership. There was a long hiatus to take back control of the assets and rights and an agreement was set last November with production restarting at that time.
Former Co-CEO of international production group Umedia, Politowski co-founded Align in 2019 with Nadia Khamlichi. Backed by a four-year greenlight fund of $200M, the group retains the ability to fully finance features and television.
He says, “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.”
Politowski adds, “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.”
Blazing Productions’ Guy Collins said the company is “delighted to have Align joining with Aniventure, Cinesite and GFM as additional partners on this project. In the current investment and distribution climate it is vital for the independent production industry to have access from forward thinking companies like Align who are replacing the more traditional bank lenders. The Align team has impressive experience and will be fully engaged with the film’s senior team.”
Align aims to produce and finance five projects a year, typically in the $8M to $30M budget range. Current projects include Blithe Spirit starring Judi Dench, Leslie Mann, Isla Fisher and Dan Stevens; Dennis Dugan’s Love, Weddings & Other Disasters with Diane Keaton and Jeremy Irons; and Die In A Gunfight starring Alexandra Daddario and Diego Boneta.
Align and Aniventure present Blazing Samurai in association with HB Wink Animation and GFM Animation. It’s a Flying Tiger Entertainment Production in association with Aniventure and a Blazing Productions Ltd. production in association with HB Wink Animation, GFM Animation and Cinesite Animation.
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