Last month, DreamWorks Animation released first look photos from their upcoming animated sequel Kung Fu Panda 3, which showcased the Panda Village. Fans got their first look at this village in 2011's Kung Fu Panda 2, when the long-lost father of Po (Jack Black) realizes that his son is still alive, revealing the hidden village where several panda bears reside. Today, Entertainment Weekly has revealed new concept art images that give us a better look at the scope of Panda Village.
Our report from last month revealed that the filmmakers embarked on a 10-day trip to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan, China. This served as a reference point for their Panda Village, watching real-life pandas in this facility, set against the backdrop of Mount Qingcheng. Production designer Raymond Zibach says that trip inspired the village seen in Kung Fu Panda 2, but they kept expanding on that for next year's Kung Fu Panda 3. Here's what the production designer had to say about the experience.
"We used that as a jumping off point for what you saw at the very end of the second film, and then we kind of kept drawing on that experience."
The village is where Po will finally reunite with his father Li (voiced by Bryan Cranston) and legions of other pandas. Throughout the first two movies, Po thought he was the last of his kind, unaware of this Panda Village. Po will face his most powerful enemy yet, Kai, voiced by J.K. Simmons, the animated movie franchise's first supernatural villain, who was shown in the first trailer. As for the Panda Village, Raymond Zibach revealed that the "enchanting" visual style was crafted because viewers will experience this new area through Po's eyes.
"We try to experience this through Po's eyes, so we want to make it really special for him. The fact that he comes back to other pandas and is going to learn their way of life was kind of magical to him because he thought none of this ever existed."
Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who directed Kung Fu Panda 2, is back for the sequel, co-directing with Alessandro Carloni. The director described the color scheme for the first two films as "hyper-realistic and theatrical," which was done to make the audience feel like they were really a part of this animated adventure. When asked about the Panda Village, Jennifer Yuh Nelson revealed that fans will learn much more about Po.
"It's a really great opportunity because you get to see what makes Po, Po, what makes him different, what makes him the same, and [we get to] really explore this entire world of pandas. Every single moment is about making that place as beautiful as possible."
Kung Fu Panda and Kung Fu Panda 2 voice actors Angelina Jolie (Tigress), Seth Rogen (Mantis), Lucy Liu (Viper), David Cross (Crane), Dustin Hoffman (Shifu) and James Hong (Mr. Ping) reprise their roles in Kung Fu Panda 3. They are joined by new voice actors Rebel Wilson, Jackie Chan, Gary Oldman, Mads Mikkelsen and Danny McBride. Take a look at the artwork below for Kung Fu Panda 3, arriving in theaters January 29, 2016.