Kung Fu Panda is a 2008 American computer-animated action comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It was directed by John Wayne Stevenson and Mark Osborne and produced by Melissa Cobb, and stars the voice of Jack Black along with Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Randall Duk Kim, James Hong, Dan Fogler, and Michael Clarke Duncan. Set in a version of old China populated by humanoid talking animals, the plot revolves around a bumbling humanoid panda named Po who aspires to be a kung fu master. When an evil humanoid kung fu warrior is foretold to escape from prison, Po is unwittingly named the chosen one destined to bring peace to the land, much to the chagrin of the resident kung fu warriors.
Although the concept of a "kung fu panda" has been around since at least 2003, work on the film did not begin until 2004. The idea for the film was conceived by Michael Lachance, a DreamWorks Animation executive. The film was originally intended to be a parody, but director Stevenson decided instead to shoot an action comedy Wuxia film that incorporates the hero's journey narrative archetype for the lead character. The computer animation in the film was more complex than anything DreamWorks had done before. As with most DreamWorks animated films, Hans Zimmer (collaborating with John Powell this time) scored Kung Fu Panda. He visited China to absorb the culture and get to know the China National Symphony Orchestra as part of his preparation. A sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2, was released on May 26, 2011.
Kung Fu Panda premiered in the United States on June 6, 2008, and has since received very favorable reviews from critics and most of the movie-going public, including Chinese audiences who were impressed with the film's faithfulness to their culture. The film currently garners an 88% "Certified Fresh" approval rating from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Kung Fu Panda opened in 4,114 theaters, grossing $20.3 million on its opening day and $60.2 million on its opening weekend, resulting in the number one position at the box office. The film became DreamWorks's biggest opening for a non-sequel film, the highest grossing animated movie of the year worldwide, and also had the fourth-largest opening weekend for a DreamWorks animated film at the American and Canadian box office, behind Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, and Shrek Forever After.
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