Jack Black's Kung Fu Panda franchise is headed back to theaters with Kung Fu Panda 4.
The series of animated martial arts comedies have proven to be some of Dreamworks' most successful films, spawning a whole on-screen universe, including video games and a number of television spin-offs.
The three previous movies have grossed a total of $1.8 billion at the global box office, ranking Kung Fu Panda as the tenth biggest animated movie franchise of all time when it comes to box office earnings.
So it would make sense that Dreamworks would want to revisit Kung Fu Panda well with a full-fledged fourth film.
Kung Fu Panda 4 Release Date: When Is It Coming Out?
Kung Fu Panda 4 was announced in August 2022 alongside the release date of March 8, 2024.
While that date has remained firm throughout production, given the ongoing writers' and actors' strikes in Hollywood, there is always the possibility that the film gets delayed.
If this was the case, it would not be the first time a Kung Fu Panda movie has been pushed back. Kung Fu Panda 3 was delayed from December 2015 to March 2016 to avoid Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
At the time, Fox President of Domestic Distribution Chris Aronson told Deadline this move came "reviewing the competitive landscape," finding that the March date gave the film "the maximum amount of air to breathe in order to have a long, successful run:"
“'Kung Fu Panda' is one of DWA’s most treasured properties, and we want to make sure it is positioned where it has the best chance to reach the broadest audience. In reviewing the competitive landscape, which we do on an ongoing basis, we feel that the spring availability does just that — gives 'KFP' the maximum amount of air to breathe in order to have a long, successful run.”
As it stands, the upcoming sequel has some major movies releasing around it, but nothing on the level of Star Wars. It currently shares a release date with A Quiet Place: Day One, and a packed March that includes a new Godzilla movie (Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire) and the next Spider-Verse sequel (if that does not get delayed as well)
Who Is Cast in Kung Fu Panda 4?
Not many casting details for Kung Fu Panda 4 have been made public; however, given the scarce bits of info out there, one can assume who will round out this colorful adventure.
This list of actors and characters includes:
Jack Black - Po
Of course, the titular Kung Fu Panda will be back for Kung Fu Panda 4. Jack Black's lovable Po has come a long way since the first film in the franchise, becoming the fated Dragon Warrior and banishing evil on multiple occasions. But the upcoming fourth film will see the character grapple with his own legacy and the idea of finding a successor for the Dragon Warrior mantle.
Dustin Hoffman - Master Shifu
After retiring from teaching at the end of the last film, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) will have become a student by the time Kung Fu Panda 4 comes around with Po teaching his former mentor how to utilize the power of Chi and contacting the Spirit Realm.
Angelina Jolie - Tigress
One of the members - and the pseudo-leader - of the Furious Five is Angelina Jolie's Tigress. Despite losing out on the title of the dragon warrior to Po, Tigress has grown to embrace the bumbling Panda warrior as one of her own, helping to take on the evil forces that threaten the Valley of Peace.
Seth Rogen - Mantis
Another Furious Five mainstay is the witty Mantis (played by Canadian funnyman Seth Rogen). Mantis was one of the first to embrace Po and see the warrior within the pudgy Panda. He now fights alongside the Dragon Warrior as a friend and an ally in the dojo.
Jackie Chan - Monkey
One of the patron saints of the material arts movie genre, Jackie Chan plays the role of Monkey. This master of the Monkey style of kung fu is also a member of the Furious Five, serving as the team's comic humor with his enthusiastic and playful attitude.
Lucy Liu - Viper
Master of the Viper kung fu style and also a member of the Furious Five is Lucy Liu's Viper. She is the kindest and most open-hearted of the bunch, having accepted Po into the team early on, becoming a close friend and comrade of Jack Black's Dragon Warrior.
David Cross - Crane
And the last of the Furious Five (who are all likely to appear in Kung Fu Panda 4) is Crane (voiced by David Cross). This nimble warrior uses the power of his wings as well as powerful punches and kicks, making his fighting style unique amongst his Furious Five cohorts.
Awkwafina - Role Unknown
The only confirmed new name headed to Kung Fu Panda 4 is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' Awkwafina. Her role is currently unknown.
Who Is the Villain in Kung Fu Panda 4?
Kung Fu Panda 4 will see Po and his team go up against a new threat in the dastardly Chameleon.
Appearing at CinemaCon 2022 (via The Wrap), Jack Black described the Chameleon as a dangerous sorceress who possesses the "totally scary and totally unfair" to bring back other villains from the franchise's past including Tai Lung (Ian McShane), and Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), and General Kai (JK Simmons).
This will likely mean that not only will Po have to take on the Chameleon, but also a number of big bads from his past.
What Is Going to Happen in Kung Fu Panda 4?
During Universal's panel at CinemaCon 2022, fans got their first taste of what Kung Fu Panda 4 will actually be about.
The movie will see Jack Black's Po venturing beyond the Valley of the Peace (the place that has been his home since he was young) to head to the big city. Upon Po setting off on his new journey, Po is faced with an unprecedented evil, a sorceress called the Chameleon who can conjure the spirits of various villains from the titular Panda's kung fu-fighting past.
Another key plot point in the upcoming sequel will be Po grappling with his own mortality, as he realizes he cannot be the Dragon Warrior forever. This leads the renowned warrior to embark on a search for his replacement, something he is nervous about knowing just how messy the process of succession can be.
It is currently unknown if Kung Fu Panda 4 will be the final film in the franchise. Despite the feeling that this film has some finality to it, Kung Fu Panda 3 co-director Alessandro Carloni previously described to Collider not wanting any of the franchise's sequels to have an "open-ended" feeling to them:
"With the sequels, we don’t want to try to have them feel open-ended. We want it to feel like a completed journey, and we feel this movie does. And then, if a fantastic story presents itself, great."
This "completed journey" strategy will allow the filmmakers to have Kung FU Panda 4 feel like a send-off for the franchise, while also leaving the door slightly open should a new story present itself.
Kung Fu Panda 4 Trailer: When Will It Come Out?
No trailer for Kung Fu Panda 4 has come out as of yet, but one could be expected in the not-so-distant future.
The film notably did not show anything from the film during its appearance at Cinema Con 2022, but that will likely be the last time the film is talked about before a trailer is made public.
Kung Fu Panda 3's trailer came out in June 2015, nine months before the movie's March 2016 release date. That would mean if the upcoming fourth film sticks to its March 2024 release date, a trailer could release any day now.
One would have assumed Dreamworks' latest animated blockbuster, Ruby Gillman, Teenage Mermaid, which was released in June, would have come accompanied by a teaser for the film, but that did not happen.
There is always the chance the trailer just drops spontaneously online as many trailers do. If this is the case, then it could happen any time now.
If the studio wants to line the trailer up with a new release, the next Universal-producer movie that would fit the audience of Kung Fu Panda 4 would be Illumination Entertainment's Migration which hits theaters on December 22 of this year.
So, while that may be quite the wait for fans, Migration's release might be the most viable place to debut a trailer.