By Keen Zhang
The production team of Hollywood's summer smash hit "Kung Fu Panda" arrived in Chengdu, in southwest China's Sichuan Province, home of China's cherished giant pandas, to seek inspiration for the blockbuster's sequel, the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post reported.
DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg (L), producer Melissa Cobb and director Jennifer Yuh Nelson hold a panda cub at Chengdu Breeding and Research Base in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, October 21, 2008.
"Many people asked me why the panda Po's father is a duck, but one of the major reasons we are here in Chengdu is to find out," Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, told reporters yesterday.
Nearly 30 people in his team, including animators, Computer Graphics and sound effects teams, went to see hundreds of real-live pandas at the Chengdu Breeding and Research Base. They also visited a number of famous beauty spots such as the Jinsha archaeological site and Mt. Qingcheng, which they will hopefully use to add Chinese flavor to the next "Kung Fu Panda" animation.
In the afternoon, masters from the Qingcheng martial arts school gave a Kung Fu performance that really wowed the delegation. Many of them have never set foot on Chinese soil before and had only seen videos of Chinese landscapes when they produced "Kung Fu Panda".
Paramount Pictures' China marketing representative, Chen Zhe, hinted that Mt. Qingcheng, a major giant panda habitat and also a sacred place for Chinese Kung Fu, may be the setting for the sequel, which will tell the story of how Po the Panda goes looking for his roots.
"Kung Fu Panda" was a giant hit in the Chinese market, grossing 187 million yuan (US$27.35 million), making it the highest grossing animation ever in China, and the highest grossing foreign film of 2008.
"Kung Fu Panda 2" will be directed by newbie Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who worked as a storyboard artist on "Kung Fu Panda" and "Madagascar".
"John Stevenson and Mark Osborne need a rest. They are exhausted, and Jennifer's 11 years experience in producing animations will guarantee the sequel's quality," said Katzenberg, explaining the change in the director's chair.
Jennifer Yuh Nelson said the script was complete but they will add some ideas from the China trip. She said production will start in a few weeks and the movie will hit the screen on June 3, 2011. Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and Jackie Chan will again join the star-studded voice cast. Nelson also announced that the sequel will be produced in stereoscopic 3-D.
To date, "Kung Fu Panda" has made more than $628 million worldwide. The movie will be released on DVD on November 9 together with a companion film, "Secrets of the Furious Five."
(China.org.cn October 22, 2008)