Kung Fu Panda (franchise)

Kung Fu Panda
Creator DreamWorks Animation
Ethan Reiff
Cyrus Voris
Films and television
Short films
Animated series
Theatrical presentations
Video games

The Kung Fu Panda franchise from DreamWorks Animation consists of three films: Kung Fu Panda (2008), Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) and Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016). The first two were distributed by Paramount Pictures, while the third film was distributed by 20th Century Fox. Three shorts, Secrets of the Furious Five (2008), Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special (2010) and Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters (2011), were also released. A television series for Nickelodeon television network, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, premiered in the fall of 2011.

The franchise, set in a fantasy wuxia genre version of ancient China populated by humanoid animals, features the adventures of Po Ping, an obese giant panda, who was improbably chosen as the prophesied Dragon Warrior. Although his status is initially doubted, Po proves himself worthy as he strives to fulfill his destiny and learn about his past with his new friends.

The film series has been highly acclaimed with its first two features being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature as well as numerous Annie Awards while the television series has won 11 Emmy Awards. Furthermore, this acclaim is particularly enthusiastic in China, where the series is hailed as not only an excellent contribution to the wuxia genre, but for its impressively knowledgeable understanding of Chinese culture and heritage for an American movie production. In addition, both the first two films were the most successful animated feature film for their years[1] and the second is currently the biggest worldwide box office success for a movie directed solely by a woman (Jennifer Yuh Nelson).

Film series

Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Main article: Kung Fu Panda

Po, a clumsy, overweight panda, is a kung fu fanatic who lives in the Valley of Peace and works in his goose father Mr. Ping's noodle shop, unable to realize his dream of learning kung fu. One day, a kung fu tournament is held for the elderly spiritual leader of the valley, Grand Master Oogway, to determine the identity of the Dragon Warrior, the one kung fu master capable of understanding the secret of the Dragon Scroll, which is said to contain the key to limitless power. Everyone in the valley expects the Dragon Warrior to be one of the Furious Five—Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane—a quintet of kung fu masters trained by Master Shifu to protect the valley. To everyone's surprise, Oogway chooses Po, who had accidentally stumbled into the tournament arena after arriving late.

Refusing to believe that Po can be the Dragon Warrior, Shifu subjects Po to torturous training exercises in order to discourage him into quitting. Determined to change himself into someone he himself can respect, Po perseveres in his training and befriends the Furious Five, who had previously mocked Po for his lack of skill in kung fu. Po soon learns that he must fight Tai Lung, an evil kung fu warrior who has escaped from prison to take revenge for being denied the Dragon Scroll, and despairs he will be unable to defeat him. However, Shifu discovers that Po is capable of martial arts when motivated by food, and successfully trains him to learn kung fu. After his training is complete, Po is given the Dragon Scroll, which he discovers to be blank. However, Po realizes that the key to limitless power lies within himself, allowing him to defeat Tai Lung and restore peace to the valley.

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Main article: Kung Fu Panda 2

Po now lives his dream as a kung fu master and protects the Valley of Peace alongside the Furious Five. However, he is thrown into internal conflict when he begins having flashbacks of his mother and learns from Mr. Ping that he was adopted as an infant. Shortly after, Po and the Five are sent on a mission to stop the evil peacock Lord Shen from using a newly developed weapon, the cannon, to conquer all of China and destroy kung fu tradition. Po remains tormented by thoughts of being abandoned by his real parents until he is guided by a wise old soothsayer to embrace his past, and remembers that his parents risked their lives to save him from Shen, who had set out to exterminate all pandas after learning of a prophecy that he would be defeated by "a warrior of black-and-white". Po achieves inner peace, which allows him to destroy Shen's new weapon, defeat Shen, and accept Mr. Ping as his father. However, during the last scene of the movie it shows Po's biological father realizing his son is alive.

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Main article: Kung Fu Panda 3

Some time after the events of the second film, Shifu relinquishes his duties as master of the Jade Palace to Po, claiming that the next step of his own apprenticeship is to oversee the Furious Five's training. While struggling with this new responsibility, Po rejoices upon reuniting with his biological father, Li. However, news that the spirit warrior and collector Kai had returned to the mortal realm and is stealing the Chi of masters from all over China reach the Valley of Peace and Po and the others discover from a scroll left by Oogway that Kai can only be defeated by the power of Chi, a technique known only by the panda colonies, thus Po and Li set to the secret Panda Valley in order to have Po learn it. Po eventually discovers that Li had deceived him because the pandas had forgotten at all about how to manipulate the Chi and he just wanted to protect his son from Kai, much to Po's disappointment. Once making amends with his father, Po joins forces with the pandas to make a stand against Kai, mastering the power of Chi in the occasion and using its power to destroy him for good. After returning to the Valley of Peace, Po spends his days spreading the teachings of Chi.


DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has said that it is possible that perhaps the series will see 3 more sequels after Kung Fu Panda 3, bringing it to a six-film series.[2]

On January 13, 2016, Collider asked the filmmakers of Kung Fu Panda 3 about the possibility of a fourth film.[3] Co-director Jennifer Yuh Nelson said, "It’s one at a time. We want to make this a perfect jewel, and then we’ll see what happens after that."[3] Co-director Alessandro Carloni said, "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."[3]

Television series

Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness

Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness is an animated television series based on the Kung Fu Panda film series, set between the first two films. The show was originally intended to first air in 2010, but it was delayed and officially premiered on Nickelodeon on November 7, 2011. Of the series's voice cast, only Lucy Liu, Randall Duk Kim, and James Hong reprise their roles from the films as Viper, Oogway, and Mr. Ping. The first season, consisting of 26 episodes, ended on April 5, 2012. The second season aired from April 6, 2012 to June 21, 2013 and also consisted of 26 episodes. A third season began airing June 24, 2013 and consists of 28 episodes.

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 26 September 19, 2011 (2011-09-19) April 5, 2012 (2012-04-05)
2 26 April 6, 2012 (2012-04-06) June 21, 2013 (2013-06-21)
3 28 June 24, 2013 (2013-06-24) June 29, 2016 (2016-06-29)[note 1]

Short films

Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five (2008)

Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five is an animated short film that serves as a semi-sequel (or spin-off) to Kung Fu Panda and appears on a companion disc of the original film's deluxe DVD release. It was later broadcast on NBC on February 26, 2009, and is available as a separate DVD as of March 24, 2009. The film has a framing story of Po (in computer animation), telling the stories of his comrades in arms, the Furious Five, which are depicted in 2D cel animation.

Kung Fu Panda Holiday (2010)

Main article: Kung Fu Panda Holiday

Kung Fu Panda Holiday (also known as Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special) is a 2010 television special that premiered on NBC on November 24, 2010. It tells a story of Po, who is assigned to host the annual Winter Feast by Master Shifu, despite his wishes to spend the holiday with Mr. Ping.

Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters (2011)

Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters is an animated short film that was released on December 13, 2011 as a special feature attached to the Kung Fu Panda 2 DVD and Blu-ray. It tells the backgrounds of the masters of Gongmen City: Thundering Rhino, Storming Ox, and Croc.[4]

Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Scroll (2016)

Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Scroll is an animated short film officially released as a bonus feature in the Kung Fu Panda: Ultimate Edition of Awesomeness Blu-ray pack in January 2016. [5] Secrets of the Scroll details the forming of the Furious Five, and their first fight together against a common enemy. Unlike previous Kung Fu Panda short films, Secrets of the Scroll has yet to be released on its own DVD or Blu-ray.

Panda Paws (2016)

A new short film, Panda Paws, was released with the Blu-ray of Kung Fu Panda 3.[6] Panda Paws involves the character Mei Mei competing with Bao at the "Spring Festival."[7]


Box office performance

The films series grossed over $1.8 billion making the Kung Fu Panda franchise the seventh highest-grossing animated franchise (behind Shrek, Ice Age, Toy Story, Madagascar, and Despicable Me) and the third highest-grossing DreamWorks Animation's franchise behind Shrek and Madagascar.

Film Release date Box office Rank Budget (millions) Ref(s)
Opening weekend
North America
North America Other territories Worldwide All time
North America
All time
Kung Fu Panda June 6, 2008 $60,239,130 $215,434,591 $416,309,969 $631,744,560 #143 #99 $130 [8]
Kung Fu Panda 2 May 26, 2011 $47,656,302 $165,249,063 $500,443,218 $665,692,281 #253 #92 $150 [9]
Kung Fu Panda 3 January 29, 2016 $41,282,042 $143,523,463 $376,352,73 $519,881,355 #330 #149 $145 [10]
Total $149,177,474 $524,090,146 $1,291,869,283 $1,817,258,332 $425 [11][12]

Critical and public reception

Each Kung Fu Panda film has received highly positive reviews, with critics often praising the animation, voice acting, and character development.

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Kung Fu Panda 87% (178 reviews)[13] 73 (33 reviews)[14] A-[15]
Kung Fu Panda 2 81% (167 reviews)[16] 67 (31 reviews)[17] A[15]
Kung Fu Panda 3 87% (150 reviews)[18] 66 (34 reviews)[19] A[15]

Cast and characters

Characters Theatrical films Short films TV Special TV series
Kung Fu Panda Kung Fu Panda 2 Kung Fu Panda 3 Secrets of the Furious Five Secrets of the Masters Secrets of the Scroll Panda Paws Kung Fu Panda
Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness
Po Jack Black   Jack Black Mick Wingert
Master Shifu Dustin Hoffman   Dustin Hoffman Fred Tatasciore
Tigress Angelina Jolie Tara Strong (y) Angelina Jolie Kari Wahlgren
Tara Marci (y)
  Angelina Jolie Kari Wahlgren
Mantis Seth Rogen Max Koch Seth Rogen   Seth Rogen Max Koch
Monkey Jackie Chan Jaycee Chan (y)   James Sie   Jackie Chan James Sie
Viper Lucy Liu Jessica DiCicco (y)   Lucy Liu   Lucy Liu
Crane David Cross   David Cross   David Cross Amir Talai
Mr. Ping James Hong   James Hong   James Hong
Oogway Randall Duk Kim Cameo in DreamWorks logo Randall Duk Kim   Randall Duk Kim
Tai Lung Ian McShane Flashback Silent cameo   Ian McShane (c) André Sogliuzzo (c)
Zeng Dan Fogler   Dan Fogler Mick Wingert
Commander Vachir Michael Clarke Duncan  
Shen   Gary Oldman Flashback  
Soothsayer   Michelle Yeoh  
Wolf Boss   Danny McBride  
Storming Ox   Dennis Haysbert   Dennis Haysbert  
Croc   Jean-Claude Van Damme   Tony Leondis  
Thundering Rhino   Victor Garber   Paul Scheer  
Li Shan   Fred Tatasciore Bryan Cranston  
Kai   J.K. Simmons  
Mei Mei   Kate Hudson   Kate Hudson  
Bao   Steele Gangon   Steele Gangon  
Lei Lei   Liam Knight  
Grandma Panda   Barbara Dirickson   Barbara Dirickson  
Sum   Al Roker  
Dim   Willie Geist  
Wo Hop   Jack McBrayer  
Master Rhino   Jonathan Groff  
Fung   John DiMaggio
Hundun   Diedrich Bader
Temutai   Kevin Michael Richardson
Jong Sung Jai Kai Chow   Wayne Knight
Tong Fo   Jeff Bennett
Taotie   Wallace Shawn
Bian Zao   Simon Helberg
Chao   James Sie
Yao   Paul Rugg
Scorpion   Lynn Milgrim
Gah-ri   Fred Tatasciore
Lidong   Jim Cummings
Fenghuang   Wendie Malick
Junjie   Stephen Root
Kim   Graham McTavish
Bao   Fred Tatasciore
Su   Amy Hill
Wu Kong   James Sie
General Tsin   R. Lee Ermey
Ke-Pa   Alfred Molina
Peng   Danny Cooksey
Hu   Neil Ross


Film Director(s) Producer Writer(s) Composer(s) Editor
Kung Fu Panda John Stevenson and Mark Osborne Melissa Cobb Screenplay By: Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger
Story By: Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris
Hans Zimmer and John Powell Clare Knight
Kung Fu Panda 2 Jennifer Yuh Nelson Screenplay By: Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger and Charlie Kaufman
Story By: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Kung Fu Panda 3 Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe

Video games

Arena show

Directed by international entertainment director, Franco Dragone, best known for Le Rêve and House of Dancing Waters, Kung Fu Panda: Arena Spectacular is an in-progress live arena show, featuring characters from the Kung Fu Panda. Combining circus and Chinese acrobatics as well as arena show effects, the production was supposed to be released around the same time of Kung Fu Panda 2.[21] After a multi city casting tour in 2010,[22] the production went behind closed doors until late 2011 when a new set of audition dates were announced for the following year.[23] However, shortly before the announced January 2012 auditions, it was announced that both Franco Dragone and DreamWorks had decided to postpone the live show's opening date, canceling all auditions.[24]

Themed land

A themed area Po's Kung Fu Garden was opened in 2012 at DreamWorks Experience, one of the themed lands at the Australian theme park Dreamworld. As of 2012 Po's Kung Fu Garden consists only of a small area featuring a Po photo opportunity. In late 2012, additional rides and attractions were added to the area.


In order of the Kung Fu Panda franchise history:

  1. Kung Fu Panda (2008)
  2. Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five (2008)
  3. Kung Fu Panda Holiday (2010)
  4. Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
  5. Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness (2011–2016)
  6. Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters (2011)
  7. Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Scroll (2016)
  8. Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
  9. Panda Paws (2016)


  1. The official final episode of the show "Po the Croc" premiered in Germany on January 7, 2015.


  1. "2011 WORLDWIDE GROSSES". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  2. O'Hara, Helen (December 3, 2010). "Katzenberg Talks DreamWorks Sequels". Empire. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 Radish, Christina (January 13, 2016). "'Kung Fu Panda 3′: Directors, Producer on Shaping a Worthy Sequel and Po's Future". Collider. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  4. "The Hilarious Global Smash Hit Kung Fu Panda 2 Becomes the Most Awesome Holiday Gift Pack on Blu-Ray™ and DVD Tuesday, December 13th". DreamWorks Animation via PRNewswire. October 4, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  5. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017VOHQSG/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_1?pf_rd_p=1944687622&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B00168OINK&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0RG1M3PBT3RTAAJJ4PXF
  6. http://www.amazon.com/Kung-Fu-Panda-Blu-ray-Digital/dp/B01AYMA95Y
  7. http://rsomerendy.tumblr.com/post/113068203531/yesterday-i-went-to-a-screening-of-dreamworks
  8. "Kung Fu Panda (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  9. "Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  10. "Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  11. "Kung Fu Panda Movies at the Box Office". Box Office Mojo.
  12. "Franchise Index". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  13. "Kung Fu Panda (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  14. "Kung Fu Panda (2008)". Metacritic. Retrieved June 5, 2008.
  15. 1 2 3 "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  16. "Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  17. "Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)". Metacritic. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  18. "Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  19. "Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)". Metacritic. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  20. Little Orbit (May 4, 2015). "Little Orbit Kicks Off Totally Epic Kung Fu Panda: Showdown of Legendary Legends Video Game" (Press release). PRNewswire iReach. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  21. DreamWorks Animation (May 19, 2009). "DreamWorks Animation and Franco Dragone Entertainment Group to Create 'Kung Fu Panda' Arena Show" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  22. Kung Fu Panda Auditions (November 22, 2010). "AUDITIONS START NEXR SUNDAY IN ORLANDO!". Facebook. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  23. "KUNG FU PANDA LIVE AUDITIONS". inside Gymnastics. January 3, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  24. Kung Fu Panda Auditions (January 11, 2012). "Given the immense innovation...". Facebook. Retrieved March 4, 2012. Given the immense innovation in development for “Kung Fu Panda Arena Spectacular,” DreamWorks Theatricals and the Franco Dragone Entertainment Group have made the difficult decision to delay the production’s launch date. It is the ambition of both companies to give the show the appropriate amount of time it needs to recognize its fullest creative potential. All auditions have been postponed indefinitely.
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