The film was first revealed in February 2012 by Toei Animation. It was developed to fit modern audiences. The team in charge of making the film had discussions with Kurumada to execute major changes in the characters that would be well received. The music of the film was composed by Yoshihiro Ike and features the theme song "Hero" by Yoshiki. Since its release, the movie has grossed US$17.1 million worldwide.
The film begins with Sagittarius Aiolos (Toshiyuki Morikawa) being chased by two Gold Saints, Capricorn Shura (Shinji Kawada) and Gemini Saga (Kōichi Yamadera). They were sent by the Pope of Sanctuary in order to kill him for treason. Aiolos was struck down, but Saga died during the struggle. Meanwhile, in the Himalayas, Mitsumasa Kido and his butler Tatsumi explore an icy cavern. As he goes ahead, Mitsumasa discovers a baby girl and Aiolos, barely clinging to life. With his last Cosmo, Aiolos shows Mitsumasa that the Pope branded Aiolos a traitor and he escaped with the baby in order to save her. The baby is a reincarnation of the goddess Athena. He also explains that in sixteen years, brave young men known as Saints will arise to protect her. Aiolos dies, leaving the Sagittarius Cloth behind.
Sixteen years later, Saori Kido (Ayaka Sasaki), a young girl troubled by her mysterious powers, is being driven by Tatsumi. He explains that Mitsumasa, Saori's late adoptive grandfather, kept her safe all these years and learns she is the reincarnation of the Goddess Athena and the existence of the Saints. However, they are suddenly attacked by Saints. Saori is saved by Pegasus Seiya (Kaito Ishikawa) from an assassin sent to kill her. Seiya's friends and fellow Bronze Saints Cygnus Hyōga (Kenshō Ono), Dragon Shiryū (Kenji Akabane), Andromeda Shun (Nobuhiko Okamoto), also arrive to rescue her as her protectors.
That night at the Kido Mansion, a Gold Saint, Leo Aiolia (Gō Inoue), arrives to retrieve the Sagittarius Cloth and kill the fake Athena, Saori. After the Bronze Saints are defeated, Tatsumi hands over the Sagittarius Cloth, but not before Saori displays her Cosmo. With newfound doubt, Aiolia leaves, asking Saori to come to Sanctuary to prove she is Athena. Upon learning of her destiny, she heads to Sanctuary and wage war against its Pope.
Seiya, alongside his friends and Phoenix Ikki (Kenji Nojima) must pass through the twelve Zodiac Temples in Athena's Sanctuary in twelve hours, in order to save their goddess Athena from imminent death. They must confront each of the twelve Gold Saints that guard each of the temples in order to reach the cure that will save Athena, which she was struck with earlier in the film. After breaking through the first two temples of the Zodiac, the Saints discover that the first two Gold Saints, Aries Mu (Mitsuru Miyamoto) and Taurus Aldebaran (Rikiya Koyama) are their allies. After Seiya defeats Alderaban, both he and Mu agree to watch over Athena while the others go through the rest of the Temples. At the Cancer Temple, Cancer Deathmask (Hiroaki Hirata) teleports Hyoga and Shiryu to the entrance to the Underworld, but Hyoga is rescued by his master, Aquarius Camus (Daisuke Namikawa), and ends up in the Aquarius Temple. There, Hyoga battles his master and is victorious, with Camus' final words being "protect Athena". Meanwhile, Seiya and Shun arrive at the Leo Temple where Aiolia attacks them mercilessly. At the entrance to the Underworld, Deathmask's Gold Cloth abandons him after it discovers his evil nature. Shiryu removes his own Cloth and kills Deathmask. He is then teleported back to the Cancer Temple alongside Hyoga.
As Seiya and Shun struggle against Aiolia, the Virgo Gold Saint Shaka (Mitsuaki Madono) comes to their rescue, stopping Aiolia, allowing the Bronze Saints to continue. Once at the Scorpio Temple, Seiya and Shun are attacked by Scorpio Milo (Masumi Asano), with the battle escalating all the way to the Sagittarius Temple, with Capricorn Shura (Shinji Kawada) waiting for them. Back at the Cancer Temple, Saori arrives with Mu and Aldebaran and revives the unconscious Shiryu and Hyoga, even though she is weakened. While Seiya and Shun struggle with Milo and Shura, respectively, Ikki comes to Shun's rescue, but all three Bronze Saints are taken down. Milo then discovers Aiolos' testament, entrusting the Bronze Saints with Athena's life.
The surviving Gold Saints, alongside Hyoga, Shiryu, and Saori arrive. Shaka reveals that the Pope put Aiolia under an illusion, explaining why he attacked Seiya and Shun. Shaka also reveals that the Pope is the real traitor within Sanctuary. Saori, Shiryu, Hyoga, and Shun join their Cosmo to revive Seiya. Pisces Aphrodite (Takuya Kirimoto) speaks to the Pope about the current situation, but he is beaten up by the Pope. Sanctuary is then attacked by the Pope who reveals himself as Gemini Saga, who faked his death sixteen years ago. He reveals to the Saints that he tried to kill Athena all those years ago but was stopped by Aiolos. Now he plans to take control of the universe. He brings a giant statue to life and the Gold Saints join forces to destroy it, while Seiya faces Saga alone.
Seiya burns his Cosmo to reach the mythical Seventh Sense and gains the upper hand, but Saga merges himself with another giant statue and prepares to destroy Athena and everyone in Sanctuary. Suddenly, the Sagittarius Cloth covers Seiya and he is able to rescue Saori. With Saori in his arms, Seiya confronts Saga one last time and saves her from Saga's curse. He shoots a powerful arrow to destroy Saga, saving Sanctuary and the world. Saori, now in control of Sanctuary, addresses all the Saints, thanking Seiya and his friends for rescuing her.
In a post-credits scene, Seiya, Shiryu, Hyoga, and Shun celebrate Saori's sixteenth birthday.
The casting is composed of new voice actors with the previous version of Seiya having been voiced by Toru Furuya in Saint Seiya and Saint Seiya Omega and Masakazu Morita in OVAs series.Kaito Ishikawa as Pegasus Seiya. He is a strong willed young man who keeps to his faith. Ishikawa mentions being happy with the work he was assigned to.
Ayaka Sasaki as Saori Kido. She is the reincarnation of Athena who is tossed about her origins and mission.
Kenshō Ono as Cygnus Hyōga. Collected and unemotional, he is a passionate Bronze Saint.
Kenji Akabane as Dragon Shiryū. A calm and considerate Bronze Saint who is willing to risk his life for the others. Akabane considers the character both "cool" and "serious".
Nobuhiko Okamoto as Andromeda Shun. A gentle and kind Bronze Saint who dislikes hurting his enemies. Okamoto noted that he had to express masculinity when delivering lines.
Kenji Nojima as Phoenix Ikki. A loner Bronze Saint, and Shun's older brother.
Mitsuru Miyamoto as Aries Mu. The calm and realistic Aries Gold Saint who dislikes fighting.
Rikiya Koyama as Taurus Aldebaran. The Taurus Gold Saint who is a straight talker and follows his emotions.
Kōichi Yamadera as Gemini Saga. A man with a pure heart as well as ambition and pride.
Hiroaki Hirata as Cancer Deathmask. A sadistic and malevolent man.
Gō Inoue as Leo Aiolia. The youngest Gold Saint who is passionate for his duties.
Mitsuaki Madono as Virgo Shaka. Believed to be Buddha's reincarnation, he has deep insight. Madono feels content with the role, having been a big Saint Seiya fan.
Masumi Asano as Scorpio Milo. A smart woman and honored to be Saint to Athena. Asano commented she was given freedom in her portrayal of Milo.
Toshiyuki Morikawa as Sagittarius Aiolos. The late Sagittarius Gold Saint who lost his life after being deemed traitor.
Shinji Kawada as Capricorn Shura. An aggressive man who enjoys fighting.
Daisuke Namikawa as Aquarius Camus. A man who while appears coldhearted, is kind.
Takuya Kirimoto as Pisces Aphrodite. A beautiful man who uses the power of the roses to fight. Kirimoto is honored to play the character's role.
The film is directed by Keiichi Sato and written by Tomohiro Suzuki. According to Sato, the film was developed to fit the modern times. Legend of Sanctuary is Sato's first CGI work, something which he considers a challenge. At some times the CGI Cloths were designed as if the staff was working on a video game whereas in other times they worked as a movie. Besides CGI, the characters were vaguely based on Sato's thoughts. Series creator Masami Kurumada worked as the executive producer of the film. Sato believes that by working with Kurumada they had a benefit, as their work would avoid erasing "the soul of the original manga." Sato also wanted the CGI to be able to give the protagonists facial expressions produced by their personalities.
Several changes were made from the original manga. One of the most challenging parts from the production was deciding which fights should they feature so that they could bring the best visual impact. As a result, some fights from the original series were not used such as Phoenix Ikki against Virgo Shaka which was one of the producer's favorites. The Cloths' boxes were removed in favor of small pieces of metal to generate a better impact. Another major change was the gender of the Scorpion Gold Saint, Milo, who became a female Saint. It first started as a joke but the staff became so interested in that that they consulted Kurumada in order to get his approval. The change was made with the staff hoping their version of Milo would be as appealing as original.
In the making of the main cast, it was important for the staff the personality of Pegasus Seiya. Comical scenes were added to the film in order to make him appealing to the audience. Saori Kido's role was expanded in comparison to the original series so that the audience would relate themselves with her. The idea was that her character would develop across the story to become worthy of the name of Athena. On the other hand, certain issues resulted in Gemini Saga lacking his depth from the original series.
The music for the film is being composed by Yoshihiro Ike; the soundtrack score was released on June 18, 2014. Yoshiki of X Japan contributed the film's theme song "Hero (Yoshiki Classical Version)". Katie Fitzgerald, vocalist of Yoshiki's other band Violet UK, sings while Yoshiki performs on the piano. Originally, Toei had problems with the music production of the film and contacted Yoshiki to have him write the movie's theme song.
Yoshiki watched the film before producing the song, remarking on its sense of amazing, grand scale; he ultimately decided to write a ballad after wondering what kind of song would fit with the film's vision, saying that the song "carries the hero's motif with a very beautiful melody that strikes the heart with much impact". He debuted the song during the first leg of his #Yoshiki Classical World Tour. Yoshiki stated that he feels honored to play this theme being a fan of the original Saint Seiya anime.
The project was first revealed in February 2012 by Toei Animation. The film was listed as the new "Masami Kurumada Project." The film's title and story were revealed in October 2013, while the first teaser appeared in December 2013 in the film's official website. Its first trailer was shown in March 2014. The website and the trailer had the following quote from Kurumada: "The Seiya legend began here." Following the announcement for the voice cast, the official site for the film was updated today with a new poster visual featuring the protagonist Seiya wearing the Gold Cloth of Sagittarius. The tagline says, "Burn, Cosmo." In April 2014 Comic Natalie unveiled a new poster. The "golden poster" will be put up in 40 of JR's main railway stations throughout Japan during this spring's string of Golden Week holidays. Another trailer was released in early June 2014 featuring the theme song "Hero (Yoshiki Classic Version)."
The film premiered in Japan on June 21, 2014. Fans can attend special talk events if they buy certain advance tickets for the film. The cast members will appear at a talk event on May 31 in Tokyo, followed by similar events in Nagoya and Osaka on June 1. Another talk was held in June 19, 2014. It was about character models, animation, illumination among others. The film premiered at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival on June 11, 2014. The film's DVD was released on December 5, 2014.
To promote the movie in Japan, Lotteria restaurants added a special version of their Full Potato menu item that has a container designed to look like a Saint Seiya Cloth Box and includes a headphone jack phone strap of either Pegasus Seiya, Dragon Shiryū, Cygnus Hyōga, Andromeda Shun, or Phoenix Ikki. Customers can also enter a nationwide lottery for a limited edition Sagittarius Seiya strap, a Legend of Sanctuary poster signed by Kaito Ishikawa (voice of Seiya in the film), or a special theatrical pamphlet.
During its debut, the film has grossed ¥82 million in Japan, ranking fifth in Box Office Mojo's Chart. In its second week, the film appeared eighth in the box office with ¥38 million (US$370,000). In its third week it fell to 12th earning a total of ¥24 million (US$240,000). The film grossed CN¥37.9 million in China.