The third instalment of DreamWorks Animation’s highly successful “Kung Fu Panda” franchise will hit both U.S. and Chinese screens at the same time, on January 29, 2016. The film is set to be the first major American animated feature to be co-produced with China and is the result of a collaboration between DreamWorks and its Chinese counterpart Oriental Dreamworks.
Kung Fu Panda 3 continues to tell the story of a panda named Po, and is directed by Jennifer Yuh and Alessandro Carloni. It stars English voice actors Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu.
The movie’s status as a co-production allows DreamWorks to receive a larger share of revenue than foreign studios typically receive when their films are allowed into China under its quota system.
For many companies looking to release films in China, co-production is commonly seen as a means to help skirt annoying import quotas, which sets a hard limit of 34 for-profit foreign films per year.
Kung Fu Panda 3 is breaking new ground by having two versions of the film built from the ground up so that characters are animated with their speech in sync in both English and Mandarin. Creating the Mandarin-language version has added substantially to the time and budget required to make the film.
The franchise has so far raked in almost $1.3 billion at the box office, cashing in on two of the most quintessentially Chinese aspects of the Middle Kingdom’s culture: pandas and martial arts. Chinese admiration and envy for that success surely helped pave the way for the creation of Oriental DreamWorks.
Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson explained that production in China helped improve the authenticity of this latest installment. “The weight of accuracy had been difficult for us. Previously we had to do things through research and extrapolation. Now we have Chinese people as creators,” she said. “We have some 200 artists working with us currently. They are not just executing, they are designing.”
DreamWorks Animation created the Shanghai based family entertainment company Oriental DreamWorks in 2012, through a $330 million joint venture. The company is expected to develop and produce original Chinese animated and live action content for distribution within China and worldwide.
Beside producing its own content, Oriental DreamWorks also acts as a distributor for DreamWork’s productions in China. ODW became the first company in decades to get a license to import Western films, when it released The Croods in 2013.
Hollywood studios are increasingly competing to capitalize on the booming Chinese box office, which is expected to overtake U.S. in the next few years. With Kung Fu Panda 3, DreamWorks has made a significant step towards establishing a foothold and making a whole lot of money.
Watch the film’s latest trailer here:
By Daniel Paul