Since their last appearance on the big screen, Po and his companions have been absent from films altogether. Since its first release in 2008, DreamWorks Animation’s movie Kung Fu Panda has earned more than $631 million at the box office and received numerous accolades. But with the blockbuster triumph of Kung Fu Panda 3 in 2016, fans were left wondering when a fourth movie would ever arrive or if it was still coming. Some good news: the release date for Kung Fu Panda 4 is currently planned for a March 2024 release date.
Rumors circulated for years between Kung Fu Panda 3 in 2016 and the official announcement in 2022, including articles like this one from TechRadar247 in 2020, which stated Kung Fu Panda 4 would be happening soon. Due to these rumors, many fans assumed the film would be in production for a 2020 or 2021 release, but this was ultimately not true. Though it’s been officially announced now, questions still linger as to why Kung Fu Panda 4 took so long to enter production. It will have been eight years passed between Kung Fu Pand 3 and the upcoming fourth film, which significantly greater than the three years between the first and second films and the five years between the second and third. So, why the delay?
Confusion at DreamWorks Causes Delays
Former DreamWorks Animation Chief Jeffrey Katzenberg told Empire in 2010 that there would be six Kung Fu Panda films in total. However, after DreamWorks Animation was purchased by NBCUniversal in 2016 for almost $4 billion, Katzenberg resigned as CEO and was appointed Chairman of DreamWorks New Media, which included both DreamWorks Animation’s interests in AwesomenessTV and Nova. He later stepped down from his DreamWorks career completely for unknown reasons.
Two years later, in 2018, Kung Fu Panda 3 director Jennifer Yuh Nelson told Metro that she didn’t know if there would be a follow-up to Kung Fu Panda 3, saying, “For me, it had always been a trilogy, in terms of the exact arc that we were working on. I really don’t know what the plans are. But the pull is Po. Po is the world. So I am sure something will happen at some point, but it’s just that I don’t know what.” It is unclear by this point if the change in ownership, or something else entirely, led to the delay with Kung Fu Panda 4.
Media site HITC noted in 2021, “While there is very little to go on, it’s perhaps worth acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the movie industry significantly, resulting in delays across a wealth of projects,” indicating that perhaps Kung Fu Panda 4‘s development had suffered due to the societal issues surrounding the pandemic — which is likely.
Kung Fu Panda 4 Production is Just Beginning
Kung Fu Panda 4 is actually just embarking on its early development stages, which is why it won’t be released until 2024. Animated movies take time to voice act, draw, animate, and produce. At the time of this writing, no directors or producers have been attached as yet to Kung Fu Panda 4. Po the panda, whose passion for kung fu is only rivaled by his ravenous desire for dumplings, will undoubtedly continue his escapades in Kung Fu Panda 4 as he explores more of ancient China.
While the key details about the cast for the fourth movie are under wraps, we can, however, expect to see Jack Black as Po, Angelina Jolie as Master Tigress, Lucy Liu as Master Viper, Jackie Chan as Master Monkey, Seth Rogen as Master Mantis, David Cross as Master Crane, and James Hong and Mr. Ping, if the actors all reprise their previous roles. Until the new film releases, fans will just have to make do with the current movies and the slew of television expansions, like Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight, which began airing on Netflix in July 2022.