Tagged: Kung Fu Panda

Box Office Democracy: Kung Fu Panda 3

Kung Fu Panda 3

I had no interest in seeing either of the first two Kung Fu Panda movies. I thought they were a place for a brand of Jack Black shtick that I had grown tired of by the time 2008 got here (for the record: peak Jack Black was 2003’s School of Rock). I had a strong idea of what these movies were, and I didn’t want anything to do with it. As far as Kung Fu Panda 3 is concerned, I was wrong. This is a charming movie, a funny movie, sometimes even a touching movie. I regretted nothing about my time spent watching Kung Fu Panda 3, and it’s the first movie of 2016 to make me feel that way.

Kung Fu Panda 3 tells a story I was happy to hear told. Po (Black) is told he needs to start teaching the rest of his action team (voiced by a perplexing mix of stars from Angelina Jolie to David Cross to Jackie Chan) and he’s terrible at it so he needs to find his inner self just as his long lost father returns and an unbeatable opponent returns from beyond the grave. It’s not the most intricate story, and there were things set up that never got paid off to my satisfaction— like a pivotal character always nervously saying he was “sent by the universe” sounds more like an evasion than the actual eventual truth. This isn’t a movie that wants to be deep; it’s a movie that wants to be fake deep and it does a fine job at that. It keeps the jokes apart from the fight scenes and provided some touching moments between Po and his biological father (Bryan Cranston) and his adoptive father (James Hong) that get to some real places.

The action scenes were better than I expected them to be, but I’ve since realized that was a low bar to get over. Dreamworks typically does good work but their action is usually more frenetic than it is good, I suspect it’s hard to get any material that would look as good as humans doing it just because of how their art style tends toward flatter character designs. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the fight scenes particularly because of how they used the individual animals to different effect. A crane did not fight like and alligator did not fight like a panda. The disappointing exceptions were Master Monkey, who is probably just a bit too person-like to have a distinct style, and Master Tigress, who was also just too much like a human to be exciting. Again, not having seen the previous two entries in this series perhaps none of this was new, fresh, or exciting but it was sort of a delight for me.

It feels weird having to say this, or that it feels like a point of recognition, but I appreciated that no one in this movie was doing an accent. There’s a long shameful tradition in Hollywood of over the top accents, and I’m so glad we’re past that here. It feels generally culturally sensitive, although mostly by being so generic about everything that it’s impossible to feel it being specific enough to be offensive. I did not care for their depiction of dumplings being quite so big though— where are these animals getting dumplings that are universally the size of bao?

If this review were itself a movie made for children I would be learning an important lesson about judging a book by its cover, but it isn’t and I’m not. Instead, I think I’m learning a lesson about the ever-improving work coming out of Dreamworks as they move away from being “the House That Shrek Built” and towards being the people that brought you How to Train Your Dragon. It also might be a lesson about coming back to Jack Black after so many years away, he might not be as stale as I thought although I feel for the parents who had to deal with their children responding to everything they were told this weekend with “chitty chitty chat chat” emulating the climax of this film. Kung Fu Panda 3 is a good movie. Although, it is possible that after Norm of the North, any competent animated movie was going to seem like Citizen Kane. It’s probably actually a good movie.

DreamWorks Animation schedules five films every two years; Shrek, Madagascar & Kung Fu Panda sequels coming

DreamWorks Animation schedules five films every two years; Shrek, Madagascar & Kung Fu Panda sequels coming

I’m in a rush for Book Expo, so I’ll just cut and paste the press release:

Calif., May 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc.
(Nasdaq: DWA) announced today its plans to release five feature films
every two years, adding an additional film every other year to its
existing two picture a year release schedule on a going-forward basis.
The Company also announced its upcoming slate of animated feature film
releases through 2012.

The Company’s slate through 2012 now includes eight feature films
from DreamWorks Animation’s talented and seasoned creative leadership
team, including five original films and three sequels based on the
Company’s existing blockbuster franchises, Shrek, Madagascar and Kung
Fu Panda. As has been previously announced, all DreamWorks Animation
feature films are now being produced in 3D.

“Our exceptionally talented and highly experienced creative team is
bringing to DreamWorks Animation a significant number of imaginative,
original and cutting-edge ideas today,” said Bill Damaschke,
Co-President of Production and President of Live Theatrical. “Having
achieved a high level of success and consistency in our creative
process and having in our development pipeline more great story
concepts than ever before, we are very confident in our ability to add
one original film every other year.”

The upcoming animated films on the Company’s future theatrical release schedule are currently planned as follows: How to Train Your Dragon, which is based on the book of the same name by Cressida Cowell, will be released on March 26, 2010. Shrek Forever After will be released on May 21, 2010. Oobermind (formerly titled Master Mind) will be released on November 5, 2010. Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom will be released on June 3, 2011. The Guardians (working title), based on the forthcoming books by William Joyce, will be released on November 4, 2011. Puss In Boots (working title) will be released on March 30, 2012. The next chapter of the Company’s hit franchise Madagascar
is due to be released on May 25, 2012. On November 2, 2012, the Company
plans to release one of three original projects currently in
pre-production at the studio. The first is The Croods (working title).

‘Atlantis Rising’ Signs Writer

‘Atlantis Rising’ Signs Writer

Joby Harold will write the screen adaptation of Platinum Studios’ Atlantis Rising for director Len Wiseman according to The Hollywood Reporter. The writer/director is also adapting Frank Miller’s Ronin for the screen.

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci will be producing the project for DreamWorks.

"As a writer, Joby has an amazingly strong understanding of how to take genre seriously, which is prerequisite No. 1 for us when it comes to these kinds of movies," Kurtzman told the trade.

Scott O. Brown and Tim Irwin crafted the five-issue miniseries which concluded in the spring. The story tells of an underground civilization that begins to cause concern among the surface world’s governments.  A war between surface and sea is inevitable, it seems.

"In all the classic versions of this kind of movie, the threat is always from the stars," Orci said. "The idea that it’s somehow our cousins who went off in a different path of evolution who have been here, literally, underneath our oceans. … That’s fascinating, the idea of secrets right under your nose."

DreamWorks reportedly sees this as a big budget summer tentpole picture for the summer of 2011

As part of its divorce agreement, Paramount Pictures will have an option to co-finance and co-distribute the film.

Given the long lead times, staking out turf two and three years ahead is becoming increasingly important.  Already scheduled for summer 2011 in addition to Atlantis Rising are Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, The First Avenger: Captain America, The Avengers, Cars 2, and, Kung Fu Panda 2.

‘We3’ Director Named

‘We3’ Director Named

Horror site Shock til you Drop reports that Kung Fu Panda director John Stevenson has been tapped to direct the live-action adaptation of Vertigo’s We3 miniseries. The comic, written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely, was initially optioned years ago by New Line Cinema, which has since been subsumed by parent company Warner Bros.

Producer Don Murphy told the site, "Even though the film is going to be live-action, we brought on the lead director of Kung Fu Panda. He’s attached to direct We3. We’re doing it as an R-rating. It’s not going to be cutesy. There’s killer rabbits and stuff. We’re in the process right now of trying to figure out where we’re going to make it.

"It was at New Line, but the new New Line doesn’t want to do these kinds of movies. We have two really good prospects. [Producer] Susan [Montford] was able to get this film going just based on the treatment before the comic so we’ve been on this a while."

The official synopsis for the project:

We3 tells the unforgettable story of three innocent pets — a dog, a cat and a rabbit who have been converted into deadly cyborgs by a sinister military weapons program. With nervous systems amplified to match their terrifying mechanical exoskeletons, the members of Animal Weapon 3 have the firepower of a battalion between them. But they are just the programs prototypes and, now that their testing is complete, they’re slated to be permanently decommissioned” until they seize their one chance to make a desperate run for freedom! Relentlessly pursued by their makers, the We3 team must navigate a frightening and confusing world where their instincts and heightened abilities make them as much a threat as those hunting them but a world, nonetheless, in which there is something called Home. Action-packed and heart-wrenching, We3 is a new high mark from two of comics greatest talents.”

Animation Casting Director Andrea Romano Talks ‘Wonder Woman’

Animation Casting Director Andrea Romano Talks ‘Wonder Woman’

Andrea Romano, arguably the best known casting/dialogue director on the animation scene today, brings the voices of yet another DC Universe animated original film to life with Wonder Woman.  The original animated feature will be released by Warner Premiere on March 3, 2009.

Her voice cast this time includes Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Alfred Molina, Virginia Madsen, Oliver Platt and Rosario Dawson.

Romano began her career as an actress in New York before switching coasts and paths, accepting a position as a Hollywood voiceover agent’s assistant. Over five-plus years, she moved from a large talent agency to a smaller boutique agency, learning the business before shifting into casting for Hanna-Barbera in 1984.

She has been nominated for Emmy Awards a total of 18 times, and there are six Emmys standing tall in her home – well, proud as they can stand when attired in Barbie clothes. Romano enjoys dressing her statuettes.


International Animation Award Nominees Named

International Animation Award Nominees Named

The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, announced nominations for its 36th Annual Annie Awards, recognizing the year’s best animated features, TV productions, commercials, video games and short subjects and a host of individual achievements.  DreamWorks Animation leads the way with a total of 27 feature nods, including 17 for Kung Fu Panda, followed by Walt Disney Animation Studios, which received 9 nominations, and Pixar with 8. 

Nickelodeon leads the way with 12 television nominations. 

The Annie Awards will be handed out at a ceremony on Friday, January 30, 2009, at UCLA’s Royce Hall in LA. 


Animated Feature

Bolt – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Kung Fu Panda – DreamWorks Animation
$9.99 – Sherman Pictures/Lama Films
Wall-E – Pixar Animation Studios
Waltz With Bashir – Sony Pictures Classics/Bridgit Folman, Les Films D’ici, Razor Films

Animated Home Entertainment Production

Batman: Gotham Knight
– Warner Bros. Animation
Christmas Is Here Again – Easy To Dream Entertainment
Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs – The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Justice League: The New Frontier – Warner Bros. Animation
The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning – DisneyToon Studios


‘Wall*E’ Leads DVD Sales

‘Wall*E’ Leads DVD Sales

Heading into the holiday season, home video companies are hoping for a surge in shopping as sales for standard and Blu-ray discs combined to drop with a 9% increase in the third quarter compared with #Q 2007.  There remain rays of hope with Wall*E topping the charts for the week ending November 23. In second place in sales, but first in rentals, is Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder.

As one would expect during a holiday period, kids fare did very well with Kung Fu Panda taking first the week prior with 117,954 units sold according to Billboard.  What was a surprise, though, was the sales and rental strength of Hellboy II: The Golden Army. This bodes well for encouraging Universal to add the third film in the series to Guillermo del Toro’s crowded schedule.

A disappointment, according to The Numbers, has been Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has disappointed with 4.8 million in sales. Iron Man continues to top the charts but last year, nine other titles had stronger sales. Wall*E is likely to supplant Alvin and the Chipmunks for top animated film of the year.

Blu-ray sales are an encouraging sign as more people are finally ready to buy upgraded players now that the format war ended in Blu-ray’s favor.  Studios have been rushing out current and classic films in the more expensive format in the hopes of improving their bottom lines. Overall, estimates show that to date more than 14 million Blu-rays discs have been sold this year with is an increase of 233% from 2007. Industry goals were to sell 40 million units and reach $1 billion in sales but that was before the economy tanked and people slowed discretionary spending.

An increasing trend has been for initial releases to come with a digital copy on disc that can be downloaded to computers and iPods, encouraging the mobilization of home video and in turn, increased sales through multiple channels (download, standard or Blu-ray, on demand).


By the Power of Grayskull! He-Man Lives

By the Power of Grayskull! He-Man Lives

The Latino Review is reporting that Kung Fu Panda director John Stevenson will direct a live-action He-Man and the Masters of the Universe for producer Joel Silver.

He-Man was Mattel’s line of action figures from the early 1980s which spawned a two season animated series that was composed of 130 short episodes. It spawned a female counterpart She-Ra.  A 1987 live-action adaptation was made with Dolph Lundgren in the lead. DC Comics also produced comics featuring the property including an issue of DC Comics Presents where Superman and He-Man teamed up.

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was revived for the Cartoon Network and new adventures ran a single season from 2002-2003.

Justin Marks wrote a treatment for a film called Greyskull, named after the source of He-Man’s power, but the project crumbled and was considered dead until Stevenson gave a dazzling pitch.

Hollywood News & Notes

Hollywood News & Notes


Repo! the Genetic Opera just opened and has already been marketed by Lionsgate as the cult successor to the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  The movie opened this weekend in just eight theaters and earned $51,000, averaging an impressive $6450 per screen.

Director Darren Lynn Bousman told Moviehole he’s already planning a sequel to the Paris Hilton, Alex Vega film.

”I want to start a sequel next year. But again, everything — I’ll end my whole thing on a soapbox, which I love to get on,” Bousman told the site. “This movie is all about support from the Internet, and support from fans. This is not a movie where you’ll see billboards or bus stop ads or trailers on TV. It’s a movie that exists in a grass roots kind of a fashion. It exists when fans go and see it, and they go on message boards and talk about it.

"I would love to follow up Repo and finish the story, because it was conceived as a three-part movie. But I’m doing an action film next. I can’t say exactly what it is yet. It’ll be announced next week. But I’m doing a big action film next, which is really exciting."


The year isn’t even over but already 14 movies have been submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for consideration in the best animated feature category. Only three will get the nomination.

The contenders are Bolt, Delgo, Dragon Hunters, Fly Me to the Moon, Igor, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, $9.99, The Sky Crawlers, Sword of the Stranger, The Tale of Despereaux, Waltz With Bashir, WALL-E, and Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!

While Disney’s Wall-E is the hands down favorite among the masses, the other two spots will receive tremendous competition.

The Oscar nominations will be announced January 22 according to The Hollywood Reporter.


The parade of unnecessary film remakes continues as Variety reports that Will Smith’s son Jaden Smith will star in a new take on The Karate Kid.

The 1984 film with Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and Elisabeth Shue spawned three sequels and was a major hit for Columbia Pictures. The final film in the series proved to be the big screen debut for Hilary Swank. Morita was nominated as the best supporting actor by the Acamdey Awards and Golden Globe Awards for his work as the teacher, Mr. Miyagi. The film also spawned many of-trepeated one-liners and images making it a true pop culutral phenomenon.

The new script is coming from newcomer Chris Murphy and will be set in China with filming set for Beijing among other locales. No director was named.

Jerry Weintraub returns to the franchise to produce the new version working alongside Overbrook Entertainment’s James Lassiter, Will Smith and Ken Stovitz.  Jaden Smith made his screen debut as his father’s son in last year’s hit, The Pursuit of Happyness. He will next be seen in December’s other unnecessary remake, The Day the Earth Stood Still.


A Noir Puppet Movie?

angel puppetIn an act that almost feels like it should have the name "Joss Whedon" attached to it, the Jim Henson Company has announced the development of a new film project called The Happytime Murders. This original film noir murder mystery will fall under the company’s Henson Alternative banner, a division that develops projects not intended for children (such as Puppet Up! and Tinseltown). From writer Todd Berger:

"In a world where humans and puppets live together (not exactly in harmony), the puppet cast of an ’80s children’s TV show called The Happytime Gang begins to get muderered one by one. It’s then up to a disgraced puppet LAPD detective turned private eye to take the case. Based on a story Dee Austin Robertson and Todd Berger, the original feature film will feature the well-known Henson style of irreverence and parody while presenting a unique twist on the film noir genre. Todd Berger (Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five) has penned the screenplay and Brian Henson (of Muppet fame) is attached to direct."

The plot is said to be a mix between Pulp Fiction and Avenue Q with a plethora of sex, violence, and outrageous puppet-humor. The plot may also seem a bit familiar to fans of the TV series Angel from a episode in season five titled "Smile Time" in which Angel becomes a puppet after investigating a series of murders that take place on a children’s show of the same name (not to be confused with "Happytime"). We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the film as more details develop.