“The Color Purple” Director Blitz Bazawule to Direct “Black Samurai” for Warner Bros.

“The Color Purple” Director Blitz Bazawule to Direct “Black Samurai” for Warner Bros.

Warner Brothers. Discovery had landed the rights to a legendary African samurai Yasuke and “The Color Purple” director Blitz Bazawule tapped to direct the period piece in Japan. According to Variety, the studio beat out three other studios for the movie, which is tentatively titled “Black Samurai.”

The latest project will reunite Bazawule and producer/CEO of Warner Bros. Pictures Group Michael De Luca.

Yasuke was a man of African origin who came to Japan in the Sengoku period and became a retainer in the household of Sengoku Daimyo Oda Nobunaga. He was valued as a retainer who was given a stipend by Nobunaga. Yasuke is regarded by some writers as Japan’s first recorded foreign-born samurai.

Talks of a Yasuke film have been happening for nearly the last decade, with Lionsgate announcing plans for a movie in 2017 that was originally set to be titled Black Samurai.  In 2019, “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman was supposed to play a lead character in a film, but due to his untimely death, no other updates on the project had been made.

Yasuke’s story has been referenced and adapted in several ways throughout the years. Most recently in a 2021 Netflix animated series, titled “Yasuke,” which starred Lakeith Stanfield as the English voice of the samurai. It’s also widely believed that the hit “Afro Samurai” franchise is based in part on the story of Yasuke as well.

Blitz Bazawule wrote on spec and will direct and produce under his Inward Gaze banner. After Bazasule did surprize the industry with his 2018 debut “The Burial of Kojo,” helming episodes of Ava DuVernay’s “Cherish the Day” and then working with Beyoncé on her feature-length visual album “Black Is King,” Bazawule made his major studio debut with 2023’s “The Color Purple.” “The Color Purple” debuted last December to critical acclaim, eventually garnering a supporting actress Academy Award nomination for Danielle Brooks, as well as BAFTA, Critics Choice, Golden Globe and SAG nominations for its star-studded ensemble led by Fantasia Barrino, Taraji P. Henson, Colman Domingo and Corey Hawkins.

The Ghanaian filmmaker, who brought his unique vision to the Oprah Winfrey & Steven Spielberg-produced musical film, I’m sure we can wait for this project with high expectations.

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