It’s likely that no one really expected a movie titled “Kung Fu Panda” to become a breakout hit when it debuted in 2008. However, since that time, it’s spawned a successful sequel and has franchise potential with its third installment on the way in 2016.
With half a decade separating the second film and the third, many are following the animated children’s film very closely. “Kung Fu Panda 3” has flown pretty low under the radar given bigger movies coming out such as “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Jurassic World” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” However, news from the Jack Black-led animated children's movie has not been completely quiet. Below is everything we know about the "Kung Fu Panda 3" so far:
With the release of “Kung Fu Panda 2,” Jennifer Yuh became the first woman to direct an animated feature film by herself at a Hollywood studio, according to Deadline. While she’ll be at the helm of “Kung Fu Panda 3,” she won’t be running the movie by herself. DreamWorks Animation has brought on Alessandro Carloni to co-direct the third installment in the franchise (at Yuh’s request). According to the report, the studio is hoping to roll out one franchise-level movie per year in order to play to its own strengths, and beefing up the director’s chair is a good way to ensure that “Kung Fu Panda 3” has a successful release.
Carloni isn't new to the "Kung Fu Panda" family. He served as the animation supervisor on the 2008 “Kung Fu Panda” movie. He most recently worked as the head of story on last year’s “How To Train Your Dragon 2.”
Pushing the release date
In order to ensure the success of “Kung Fu Panda,” DreamWorks Animation had to tap out and admit when it was beat. The movie was originally scheduled to hit theaters on Dec. 23, 2015. However, realizing that it would go up against J.J. Abrams “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the studio shifted its release date to March 18, 2016.
It’s no secret that the first update to the “Star Wars” franchise in several years would most likely be a box office titan, and “Kung Fu Panda 3” was forced to acknowledge that simple fact that a lightsaber beats kung fu any day month of the year.
"This is part of our constantly reevaluating the competitive landscape, as we do with all of our films," said Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
After learning that he’s the fabled Dragon Warrior, Po Ping (Jack Black) defended China and his friends from the murderous Lord Shen of Gongman City. While things were starting to look good for the Kung Fu Panda, a true master’s work is never done. The third film will force Po to face two new enemies. According to the film’s official plot synopsis, the panda will be forced to conquer two “hugely epic” threats. One comes from the supernatural world and the other is “a little closer to home.” It’s unclear at this time what that means, but the second movie showed fans that, in addition to some butt-kicking action, the stories in this movie can carry some emotional weight as well. It looks like the writers are doubling down on that aspect of the franchise in the third film.
The plot synopsis tells us that Po will be facing threats from two different fronts. However, he should be more worried about the newest cast member joining the film because, rumor has it, he is the danger. (“Breaking Bad” joke. Sorry, but I'm not sorry!)
Bryan Cranston is billed to join the cast as a very important character, Po’s father. Considering one of the threats facing the Kung Fu Panda hits close to home, it’s possible that Po will have to deal with a madman father in the third film.
Fans will simply have to wait until 2016 to find out what’s in store for Po and his loveable band of karate fighting friends. "Kung Fu Panda 3" hits theaters March 18, 2016.