Everybody’s gonna be kung fu fighting — a fourth film in the “Kung Fu Panda” series will release in 2024, Universal Pictures announced Friday.
The film, which is slated for a March 8, 2024 release, will be the first film in the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise since 2016, when the DreamWorks Animation series concluded a planned trilogy. The films focus on Po (Jack Black), an excitable panda bear living in a fantasy version of ancient China. In the first film in the franchise, released in theaters in 2008, Po is chosen to become the “Dragon Warrior,” a prophesied kung fu master. Over the course of the film and its two sequels Po trains under the wise Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) and overcomes his doubts to grow into a capable hero, defeating several dangerous foes and eventually reuniting with his long-lost birth parents.
The first “Kung Fu Panda” film was DreamWorks’ highest-grossing original animated film, earning $631 million at the global box office. The films in total grossed $1.8 billion, and spawned a franchise that includes several animated TV specials and three series, including “The Dragon Knight,” which premiered its first season on Netflix last month. Beyond their financial success, the three “Kung Fu Panda” all received generally positive reviews from film critics. In a review for Variety in 2016, film critic Justin Chang called the third film a “delightful trilogy capper,” writing that it brought the trilogy’s “long-running themes of perseverance and self-knowledge to satisfying fruition.”
Beyond the release date, no information about the fourth film in the franchise has been announced. Aside from Black, other cast members from the original trilogy included Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, David Cross and James Hong. Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger wrote the screenplays for all three films in the original trilogy, while Melissa Cobb served as the lead producer. John Stevenson and Mark Osborne directed the first film, while Jennifer Yuh Nelson helmed the two sequels, the latter of which she co-directed with Alessandro Carloni.