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Kung Fu Panda 4 Release Date, Cast, Plot, Trailer And More Details

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DreamWorks Animation is on track to continue the "Kung Fu Panda" saga. 

Back in 2008, DreamWorks transported viewers to ancient China, a period ripe with mystical powers, deadly martial arts, and treacherous prophecies. Here we find Po (Jack Black), a large panda with dreams of becoming a kung fu warrior. His life takes a drastic turn when he's revealed to be the Dragon Warrior, a mythical hero destined to destroy the bubbling evil that lurks in the Valley of Peace. While he's met with disdain by Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) and the Furious Five warriors, Po emerges as the true Dragon Warrior, proving that anyone can be a hero. 

"Kung Fu Panda" emerged as a critical and commercial success, hauling in over $631 million worldwide — outgrossing Marvel Studios' debut flick "Iron Man" and Disney's "Wall-E" at the global box office. While it didn't win the award for Best Animated Picture at the Oscars, it's become a key part of DreamWorks' portfolio, spawning a billion-dollar multimedia franchise spanning two sequels, several video games, and a number of television shows. 

Unfortunately, audiences haven't seen a film starring Po and the Furious Five on the silver screen since 2016's "Kung Fu Panda 3," which features the titular panda meeting his birth father. Fans of the franchise shouldn't fret, though: Po is on track to return to cinemas very soon with the upcoming "Kung Fu Panda 4," which was formally announced back in 2022. 

When will Kung Fu Panda 4 be released?

Universal Pictures formally announced "Kung Fu Panda 4" in 2022, six years after "Kung Fu Panda 3" dominated cinemas. The film is set to hit theaters on March 8, 2024, nearly 15 years after the first picture debuted. For Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation, this is an extremely solid release date.

Initially, "Kung Fu Panda 4" was set to debut a week after Pixar's sci-fi film "Elio." While "Elio" doesn't have the same recognition as the "Kung Fu Panda" brand, it's a Pixar project, which speaks for itself. But in October 2023, news broke that "Elio" has been delayed until June 2025. This means Po is ready to dominate the multiplex unimpeded.

What is the plot of Kung Fu Panda 4?

In "Kung Fu Panda 4," audiences will find Po a little bit wiser, less clumsy, and more assured. He's a Dragon Warrior in full ... until he's called upon to pass the mantle to someone else and become the Valley of Peace's spiritual leader. This is a tall order: Po must learn how to become a spiritual leader while also seeking out and training up a new Dragon Warrior to replace him. Things get even more complicated with the sinister Chameleon enters the scene. A powerful sorceress who can transform into any creature, the Chameleon wants to get her hands on Po's Staff of Wisdom so that she might reassemble the foes Po vanquished in previous installments and steal their skills.

Luckily, Po doesn't have to face the Chameleon alone; he finds a new ally in Zhen, a clever corsac fox. But Zhen isn't just a smiling ally — she's a shifty, shady criminal. Can Po trust her? There's no time to belabor this point. In a bid to defeat the Chameleon, the student-master duo heads to Juniper City. It's exciting stuff, to be sure, promising refreshed roles for favorite characters, fabulous new faces, and potent new themes. "Po didn't have to change himself to become the Dragon Warrior," director Mike Mitchell told Next Best Picture, "So that's our theme. You become something more than you already are. It's not something to be feared." 

Who is starring in Kung Fu Panda 4?

Unsurprisingly, "Kung Fu Panda 4" will see Jack Black return as Po. Black voiced the character for the panda's first three cinematic journeys and returned for all of the franchise's short films, including 2016's "Secrets of the Scroll." The multi-hyphenate talent even popped up to voice the character in the Netflix series "Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight," which hit the streaming platform in 2022. Black is, essentially, synonymous with Po.

Plenty of other stars are set to return for "Kung Fu Panda 4." Dustin Hoffman, James Hong, Bryan Cranston, and Ian McShane will reprise the roles of Shifu, Mr. Ping, Li Shan, and Tai Lung, respectively. They'll be joined by some exciting new talents as well. Ke Huy Quan, hot off major roles in "Everything Everywhere All at Once" and "Loki," will portray Han, leader of the Den of Thieves. Viola Davis will bring the terrifying Chameleon to life — clearly, playing the bad guy in "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" suited her well. Awkwafina will round out the cast as Zhen, the street-smart fox Po teams up with. A few other new characters have emerged who don't yet have actors attached, like a mysterious stingray-like creature Po takes down in a teaser image.

But where are the Furious Five? Director Mike Mitchell offered half of an answer to Next Best Picture. "You will glimpse them in our movie. Make no mistake," he remarked. "But they are each off on their individual missions ... you'll learn about that within the context of our film."

Who is directing Kung Fu Panda 4?

Animation veteran Mike Mitchell has been tapped to direct "Kung Fu Panda 4." This is the first time Mitchell, who previously directed "Trolls" and "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part," is helming a "Kung Fu Panda" picture, though it's not his first time dabbling with the franchise. The talent previously served as a creative consultant on the first film and even boasted a small voice role in the third film. Mitchell even executive-produced "Kung Fu Panda 3." These credits have helped to turn Mitchell into one of DreamWorks Animation's most notable creatives and he has received a Special Thanks credit on a number of their projects, including the 2022 box office juggernaut "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish." 

Joining Mitchell as co-director is Stephanie Ma Stine, who previously worked as a story artist for Disney's "Raya and the Last Dragon." She also lent their talents to DreamWorks Animation productions like "How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World." Stine has also directed a handful of episodes of the DreamWorks-produced Netflix series "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power." Seeing as the two creative juggernauts have never directed a "Kung Fu Panda" flick before, fans can likely expect an exciting, fresh, and updated take on the iconic franchise as it enters a new era.

Who is writing and producing Kung Fu Panda 4?

According to IMDB, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger have been brought on board to pen "Kung Fu Panda 4." The screenwriting duo previously wrote the first three installments in the franchise. The Dream Team also produced the first three films in the franchise. It's unclear if any other writers will be tackling "Kung Fu Panda 4." 

Previous films in the franchise were produced by Melissa Cobb. However, Cobb has since parted ways with DreamWorks Animation. Per her LinkedIn, the producer took on a gig as Netflix's VP of Kids & Family, Feature Animation. Now, Cobb operates as an independent producer, leaving her future with the "Kung Fu Panda" franchise uncertain.

Rebecca Huntley will produce the upcoming feature. Huntley has been working with DreamWorks since 2009, lending her talents to pictures like "How To Train Your Dragon 2" and "The Boss Baby." Huntley also produced the 2022 hit "The Bad Guys" for the company. Seeing as Huntley is a veteran when it comes to animation, fans of the "Kung Fu Panda" franchise should rest easy knowing that the long-gestating project is in safe hands. 

Is there a trailer for Kung Fu Panda 4?

The "Kung Fu Panda 4" trailer is a welcome return to the Valley of Peace. Things are looking pretty good for Po ... until he learns he has to give up being the Dragon Warrior and become the region's spiritual leader. Then the Chameleon rears her scaly head. At first, she appears to be a teensy non-threat — until she reveals her transformational abilities. She can become just about anyone in the blink of an eye, and she has eyes on stealing the shapes and abilities of Po's vanquished enemies.

Po won't have to fight her alone, though — he's got Zhen, a cunning thief, by his side. She promises to lead him to the Chameleon, but she's also got her own agenda, and it's not exactly rule-abiding. Can Po, Zhen, and their allies defeat the Chameleon in time? We'll soon find out.

Kung Fu Panda 4 will feature a new Tenacious D song

"Kung Fu Panda 4" will, of course, star Jack Black. But he won't just be acting in the feature — he's crafting a song for it too. That's right: Tenacious D, the beloved comedy rock duo made up of Black and Kyle Gass, is putting together something special for the upcoming film. Tenacious D has a long and illustrious history that spans years, mediums, and genres. They have their very own movie, "Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny." They've appeared in video games like "Guitar Hero." They have their very own animated web series. And, of course, they have their music. There's a solid chance that "Tribute," their rock ballad about defeating a demon with the power of music, is already stuck in your head.

So far, we don't have much info on what the song will be like. In fact, all we really know is that it's in production, and that it's going to play over the end credits. But really, that's enough to get excited over. Notably, this song is coming hot on the heels of "Peaches," the viral hit Black put together for "The Super Mario Bros. Movie." That's a tough act to follow, but we're betting he's up to the task.

Will there be another Kung Fu Panda trilogy?

The trilogy is a tried and true storytelling structure in Hollywood. It's notable, then, that the "Kung Fu Panda" franchise is breaking out of it — and it's making some fans wonder if there might be more in store. Next Best Picture took the straightforward approach to this notion by directly asking director Mike Mitchell and producer Rebecca Huntley if this sequel is kicking off a new trilogy for the franchise. They were somewhat evasive ... but not entirely.

"It's very possible," Mitchell responded. "Like, I don't think anyone will ever get tired of seeing Jack Black as this panda. I mean, he just is this panda. He comes up with all of the 'skadooshes,' all the 'sha-sha-booeys' and stuff. We could watch him forever. That said, we have made the most epic chapter of this franchise here." Huntley was similarly diplomatic, remarking, "How do you top the prior three? Our focus was how do you live up to those prior three and then add something new and go beyond." 

These are interesting responses. On the one hand, they're clearly all about making "Kung Fu Panda 4" the best movie it can be. On the other hand, they never say they're not open to doing another trilogy — in fact, Mitchell makes it clear that it's a potential path forward. If this movie does well at the box office, perhaps that path will become even more enticing.