In 2001, since the beginning of the TV series, rumors for a feature-length film based on the Samurai Jack series started inmediately. Also, the first three episodes "Episode I: The Beginning", "Episode II: The Samurai Called Jack", and "Episode III: The First Fight"; were released as Samurai Jack: The Premiere Movie as the premiere of the series. The movie was later released in a DVD set.
In 2002, one year after his work as supervising producer in The Flintstones: On the Rocks; Genndy Tartakovsky started to work on a Samurai Jack theatrical feature film, that would be named Samurai Jack: The 3-D Movie. However, after the lackluster performance of The Powerpuff Girls Movie (the feature film based in The Powerpuff Girls, in which Tartakovsky worked as animation director), Cartoon Network cancelled the project.
On February 1, 2006, two years after the cancellation of Samurai Jack, and one year after the cancellation of Star Wars: Clone Wars (other TV series directed by Tartakovsky), The Jim Henson Company announced that they hired Genndy Tartakovsky for direct The Power of the Dark Crystal, the planned sequel of 1982's The Dark Crystal, but Tartakovsky left the project for a later time. Many fans rumored that this action occured because Tartakovsky will work in the feature film of Samurai Jack.
On July 21, 2006, Makoto Iwamatsu, Aku's voice actor, passed away as a cause of his esophageal cancer. Following the death of Iwamatsu, the future of the Samurai Jack film was unclear for a long time.
On September 28, 2006, Tartakovsky said during an interview that "Jack will come back" in an animated film, and also mentioned that a possible director for the film could be The Usual Suspects director Bryan Singer. Curiously, in this year, Tartakovsky worked as animation director in How to Eat Fried Worms.
On June 25, 2007, Fred Seibert of Frederator Studios said that he was granted the rights for a Samurai Jack film, that would be directed and written by Genndy Tartakovsky. Later, in an interview with Variety, Frederator Studios said that their first three projects were The Neverhood, The Seven Deadly Sins, and a theatrical Samurai Jack film, directed and written by Tartakovsky. Also, Seibert revealed that Mission Impossible III's director J. J. Abrams, and his production company Bad Robot Productions, will work in the movie, because he was a "huge Jack fan".
On June 6, 2008, DreamWorks Animation's movie Kung Fu Panda was released in theaters. The release of the film increased the rumors of the Samurai Jack feature, because the animation style of the beginning of the movie apparently was a homenage to Samurai Jack.
On September 5, 2009, the film was said to be in pre-production, co-produced by Cartoon Network Movies, J. J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions alongside Fred Seibert's Frederator Films and distributed by Warner Bros.
In 2011, one year after his work as storyboard artist in Jon Favreu's Iron Man 2, the second entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Iron Man trilogy; Genndy announced that the film was stilling in development. Curiously, in this year, Tartakovsky's TV series Sym-Bionic Titan was cancelled, and Tartakovsky worked as animation director in the film Priest.
On June 26, 2012, Tartakovsky confirmed that he had finished the film's script, but that the project had been delayed again because J.J. Abrams signed with Spyglass Entertainment for the reboot of Star Trek.
On July 11, 2012, Tartakovsky signed a long-term deal with Sony to develop and direct his own original projects. This action revived the hopes of fans about the film.
On September 11, 2012, Tartakovsky announced in an interview with IGN that a Samurai Jack movie is in pre-production. He said: "I've been trying so hard every year, and the one amazing thing about Jack is that I did it in 2001, you know, and it still survived. There's something about it that's connected with people. And I want it, it's number 1 on my list, and now Bob Osher, the President (of Digital Production at Sony Pictures Entertainment), is like 'Hey, let's talk about Jack. Let's see what we can do. And I go, 'You're going to do a 2-D feature animated movie?' and he's like, 'Yeah. Maybe. Let's do some research and let's see.' So it's not dead for sure by any means, and it's still on the top of my list, and I'm trying as hard as I can." It is going to be the conclusion for the series. The film, which is budgeted at $20 million, will combine traditional 2-D animation with stereoscopic 3-D. Tartakovsky said the loss of Makoto Iwamatsu (Aku's voice actor, who died in 2006) would also need to be addressed. The same month, Hotel Transylvania, the first theatrical movie with Tartakovsky as director, was released.
In October 2013, a Samurai Jack comics series began to be published.
On February 27, 2015, it was reported that Frederator Films would develop and produce, along Cartoon Network Studios and Warner Animation Group, a theatrical feature-length film based on Adventure Time, another TV series of Cartoon Network, starting the rumor that the Samurai Jack film and the Adventure Time film will be produced simultaneously.
On March 13, 2015, Tartakovsky left the production of a CGI-animated adaptation of Popeye the Sailor Man, because he decided to direct his own feature film Genndy Tartakovsky's Can You Imagine?. This action also revived the rumors that the film based on Samurai Jack was still in development.
In May 2015, the comic series of Samurai Jack stopped being published.
On June 24, 2015, the YouTube user avegmagnadude, uploaded a video titled "Samurai Jack Tribute", which was a tribute to the Samurai Jack series. This video increased rumors that the film will be released with CGI animation instead 2-D animation.
In September 2015, Hotel Transylvania 2, the sequel of Hotel Transylvania, was released, but Tartakovsky kept saying that a Samurai Jack feature film was still in development. However, J. J. Abrams, one of the shareholders of the project, had embarked on other projects, like Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond, the second and third installments of the rebooted Star Trek film saga; or the Star Wars sequel trilogy, starting with Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, the seventh installment of the Star Wars film saga. Curiously, Abrams was interested in directing The Power of the Dark Crystal, and this feature was set originally to be directed by Tartakovsky.
On December 2, 2015, Adult Swim (Cartoon Network's night-programming block) announced that it would be airing a new season (the fifth season) of Samurai Jack on its Toonami programming block in 2016, beginning with "Episode LIII". The series is once again being produced at Cartoon Network Studios with Tartakovsky as executive producer. For this reason, and because he is now producing the film Genndy Tartakovsky's Can You Imagine; Tartakovsky announced that he will not return to direct Hotel Transylvania 3. Also, the return of Samurai Jack started the rumor of the possible return of the also Tartakovsky's cancelled Sym-Bionic Titan.
On February 2, 2016, ComicVine reported that the finished Samurai Jack comic series will be considered non-canonical with the original series, as a cause of the future release of the fifth season; leaving the status of the planned Samurai Jack movie unknown.
On April 5, 2016, Craig McCracken, Genndy Tartakovsky's best friend and the creator of The Powerpuff Girls, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and Wander Over Yonder; mentioned on Twitter that Genndy Tartakovsky no longer works for Sony Pictures Animation, like McCracken's spouse Lauren Faust; meaning that Sony could not work with Tartakovsky for the Samurai Jack film. He also said that Tartakovsky will not reboot the original series of Samurai Jack and that he (McCracken's) will direct his own feature film.
On May 12, 2016, Adult Swim announced that the fifth season of Samurai Jack will be aired on Toonami during 2016 and 2017, meaning that the Samurai Jack film's release could be in 2017 or 2018. Also, they revealed the return of Rick and Morty and an upcoming Robot Chicken special based on the popular live-action TV series The Walking Dead.
On June 15, 2016, exactly 12 years after the last episode of Samurai Jack was aired, French animator Alexandre Loos announced that the series will take place 50 years after the events of "Episode XLVIII: Jack versus Aku", with an older black-bearded Jack as the protagonist, but it was also confirmed that the Season 5 will be completed with 10 episodes but with a rhythm of a 5 hour movie, leading to the possible cancellation of this project. Also, Phil LaMarr declined to reprise his role of Samurai Jack in the Season 5 during the AwesomeCon 2016 in Washington, D.C., but later, he accepted to return for voice Jack.
Later, on June 20, 2016, Tartakovsky announced during an interview with Cartoonbrew.com that he had accepted to return as the director of Hotel Transylvania 3, despite that he no longer works with Sony Pictures Animation. This could be another reason for delay the Samurai Jack movie's production.
On June 29, 2016, in Change.org, a petition was started for Adult Swim and Cartoon Network for greenlight the Samurai Jack theatrical movie and for dubbed the new season in Latin Spanish by Cartoon Network (Latin America).
On July 1, 2016, IGN India confirmed that the movie was still in production and that the Samurai Jack comic book series was officially confirmed as non-canonical with the series after the announcement of Season Fifth.
On July 2, 2016, Adult Swim posted a video titled "Samurai Jack: Season 5 Behind the Scenes | Samurai Jack | Adult Swim" in that Genndy Tartakovsky said that the Samurai Jack movie was scrapped. However, is completely unknown if he would change his mind if the petition of Change.org was accepted by Adult Swim.
On August 19, 2016, Tartakovsky stated during an interview with TheBitBag.com that he tried to convince Cartoon Network for greenlight the movie during years, but the idea never materialized, because Tartakovsky felt that Samurai Jack is a television thing and only could serve as a TV series or a miniseries.
On October 8, 2016, a video was uploaded in YouTube, entitled "Samurai Jack: Season 5 or Movie?", that promotes the petition along other petitions about TV series and films, like a theatrical release for Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie and a re-release in 3-D for South Park Bigger, Longer and Uncut.
As of February 10, 2017, it seems that the film was officially cancelled. However, Tartakosvky had said that apparently, an unrelated film of Samurai Jack stills in development without his involvement at Frederator.
- This would have been the fifth theatrical film based on a TV series of Cartoon Network. The first was The Powerpuff Girls Movie (based on The Powerpuff Girls), in 2002; the second was Regular Show: The Movie (based on Regular Show), in 2015 (although not released in foreign cinemas, as a result of its not very good reception); the third could be the planned film of The Amazing World of Gumball, that will be release apparently in 2016; and the fourth could be the planned movie of Adventure Time, that will be release apparently in 2017.
- Many fans speculated that The Scotsman would have been played an important role in the movie, because he was the allie of Samurai Jack that appears many times in the series. Many new storyboards of the fifth season reveal that The Scotsman will return in the series as an ally of Jack again.
- The new actor that voiced Aku in the fifth season of Samurai Jack, could voice Aku in the movie.At the time it was rumored that American voice actor Greg Baldwin, Makoto Iwamatsu's student who voiced General Iroh (other voice role of Mako until his death in 2006) in Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra will be Aku's new voice actor. Also, Baldwin voiced Aku in Cartoon Network's videogame Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall. At the end, the film was cancelled, but Baldwin was selected to voice Aku in the new and final season.