Kung Fu Panda 3 is a 2016 3D computer-animated comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is the third installment in the Kung Fu Panda franchise, and the sequel to 2011's Kung Fu Panda 2. In the film, Po enters the panda village and re-unites with his birth father and other pandas, but problems arise when a villainous spirit warrior, named Kai, returns to the mortal realm and steals chi from the kung fu masters. To prevent Kai from taking chi from all kung fu masters and pandas, Po forms the army of pandas to battle Kai's jade minions and Po must become a master of chi to defeat him and save his friends.
The film was directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni and written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger. Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Jackie Chan and James Hong reprise their roles from the previous films with Randall Duk Kim reprising his role of Oogway from the first film. They are joined by Bryan Cranston, J. K. Simmons and Kate Hudson in the roles of Li Shan, Kai, and Mei Mei, respectively.
Kung Fu Panda 3 premiered on January 16, 2016, in Los Angeles. It received a limited release in China on January 23 for a special three-hour sneak preview and was released in the United States on January 29 in 3D. The film received generally positive reviews while grossing $521 million worldwide against its $145 million budget.
In the spirit realm, Oogway fights against an adversary named Kai, who has defeated other kung fu masters in the realm and taken their chi. Oogway willingly gives in and also has his chi stolen, but not before warning Kai that the Dragon Warrior, Po, will stop him. Kai takes this as a challenge to steal the Dragon Warrior's chi and returns to the mortal realm.
Meanwhile, Master Shifu announces his retirement from teaching and passes the role of teacher to Po. An initially excited Po realizes that teaching kung fu is not as easy as he thought, and the Furious Five are injured as a result. Po is demoralized because of his failure, but Shifu advises Po that instead of trying to be a teacher, he should try to be himself. Po returns home where he meets a panda, Li Shan, whom they both realize is his long-lost biological father. They quickly bond with each other, much to the jealousy of Po's adoptive father, Mr. Ping.
After introducing Li to Shifu and his friends, Po and the Five defend the Valley of Peace from jade zombies that Kai has created from the chi of past kung fu masters. The team learns through research that in order to defeat Kai, Po must learn to master the use of chi himself, an ability utilized by ancient pandas. Li offers to teach him by taking him to his secret panda village home. Po and Li travel to the village while Shifu and the Furious Five stay behind to deal with Kai; Mr. Ping follows the pandas, worried that he will lose Po's affections to Li. Although Po is eager to learn chi, Li tells him he must first learn the relaxed life of a panda in the village.
Kai takes the chi of nearly every kung fu master in China, including Shifu and the Furious Five except Tigress, who warns the pandas of Kai's intention to steal their chi. Afraid, Li and the pandas prepare to run away. When Po demands that Li teach him how to use chi, Li confesses that he does not know how, and that he lied out of fear of losing his son again. Po is hurt over his father's misdirection; Mr. Ping, who realizes Po has become happier with Li being a part of his life, encourages Li and the other pandas to stay and ask Po to train them so they can fight back. Realizing what had previously made him fail as a teacher, Po agrees and teaches them using their everyday activities as their assets.
Kai arrives and sends his jade zombie minions to capture Po, who sends the pandas, Ping, and Tigress upon them, distracting Kai. The plan works in holding off the army, but when Po tries to use his signature Wuxi Finger Hold on Kai to send him back to the spirit realm, Kai reveals that it can only work on mortals, not a spirit warrior like himself. Kai gains the upper hand in their fight, but Po uses the Wuxi Finger Hold again on himself while gripping Kai, transporting them both to the spirit realm. They fight again, with Kai regaining the advantage to subdue Po. Using what they learned from Po, Li, Tigress, Mr. Ping, and the pandas are able to use their chi to revive and empower him. Po harnesses their chi to create a giant dragon figure which he uses to overload Kai, causing him to explode, defeating him and restoring all of the fallen masters to normal.
In an ethereal golden pond, Oogway appears to Po and informs him that his journey as the Dragon Warrior has come full circle, declaring Po to be his true successor. By choice, Po wields a mystic jade yin-yang staff bestowed by Oogway to return to the mortal world. He and his extended family all return to the valley, where they continue practicing kung fu and their chi.
In 2010, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg announced that the Kung Fu Panda franchise was planned to have six movies, or "chapters", altogether. In July 2012, Kung Fu Panda 3 was officially confirmed by Bill Damaschke, DWA's chief creative officer.
The film was made as a co-production between DreamWorks Animation and Oriental DreamWorks, a Shanghai-based studio, founded in 2012 as a partnership between DreamWorks Animation and Chinese companies. One third of the film was made in China, and the rest in the United States, at DWA. This was the first time that any major American animated feature film had been co-produced with a Chinese firm. The filmmakers worked closely with SAPPRFT to ensure the film's release in China. As a film with a co-production status in China, it allowed the production companies to circumvent the country's strict import quota and take a greater share of box-office revenue than imported films. To ensure the film's success in China, in addition to the English version, the Chinese version of the film was also fully animated, making them the only versions that will have the characters' lips synchronized with their voices.
Kung Fu Panda 3 saw the crew from the second film reunite, including director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, producer Melissa Cobb, screenplay writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, and Guillermo del Toro as executive producer. Initially, Nelson was directing the film alone, but by February 2015, Alessandro Carloni had joined her as a co-director. According to the report, Carloni, who was an animation supervisor on the first film and a story artist on the second, joined Nelson following her request to strengthen "the director's bench" to ensure that the film is completed in a timely manner.
On April 9, 2013, DreamWorks Animation announced that Rebel Wilson, Bryan Cranston, and Mads Mikkelsen had joined the cast of the film. By April 2015, J.K. Simmons had replaced Mikkelsen, whose character had been rewritten. Five months later, Wilson was replaced by Kate Hudson due to an extended production schedule. The studio had to reanimate previously completed scenes to reflect Hudson's interpretation of the character.
The film's antagonist, Kai, is the first supernatural villain of the Kung Fu Panda series. Described by del Toro as "the most formidable villain yet," the creators wanted him to stand apart from his predecessors. Nelson reasoned: "You can't go brawler because Tai Lung was brawler. You can't go smarter because Shen was smarter. Where can you go? You have to go supernatural, bigger, and even more intimidating."
On July 25, 2014, it was announced that Hans Zimmer would return to score the film. The score includes performances from renowned Asian musicians such as Chinese pianist Lang Lang, Chinese cellist Jian Wang, erhu musician Guo Gan, and Taiwanese pop singer Jay Chou and Canadian-Taiwanese young singer Patrick Brasca. The soundtrack album was released on January 22, 2016.  John Powell, who collaborated with Zimmer on the first two films, did not return for the third instalment.
In September 2012, it was announced that Kung Fu Panda 3 would be released on March 18, 2016. On April 9, 2013, the film's release date was moved forward to December 23, 2015. In December 2014, the film was moved back to its original release date of March 18, 2016, to avoid competition with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In April 2015, the release date was once again shifted, this time to January 29, 2016. AMC Theatres partnered with Fox and DWA to play the movie in Mandarin at seven theaters and in Spanish at 14 locations in the U.S and Canada meaning there will be a mix of subtitled and dubbed formats of Kung Fu Panda 3. This will mark the first time that AMC is playing a major theatrical release in dubbed/subtitled Mandarin. The film had a day-and-date release starting from January 28 in South Korea, Russia, Ukraine, Jamaica and Puerto Rico and China and the U.S. and Canada on January 29, 2016. Other markets will follow on March and April. According to Deadline.com, the strategy behind such a staggered release was to take advantage of certain opportunistic dates which presented themselves such as the Chinese New Year in February for China.
Kung Fu Panda 3 grossed $143.5 million in North America and $377.6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $521.2 million, and is the lowest-grossing film in the series. According to Deadline Hollywood, the film made a net profit of $76.65 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues for the film, making it one of the top twenty most profitable release of 2016.
In the United States and Canada, early tracking suggests the film would open to about $40–45 million from 3,955 theaters with Box Office Mojo reporting as high as $53 million opening, which is on par with Kung Fu Panda 2's $47.7 million opening in 2011 but much lower than the original film's $60.2 million opening in 2008. However, DreamWorks Animation and Fox are being more conservative suggesting a "mid $40 million" opening. Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyts at Rentrak said the film "should land somewhere between the first two installments" noting that after moviegoers – mostly from the East Coast – were affected by the 2016 United States blizzard, patrons, mostly families, would be on the look-out for entertainment movies which Kung Fu Panda 3 delivers. On January 27, two days before the film's release, Fandango reported that Kung Fu Panda 3 was the top advance ticket seller for the weekend, outstripping previous DWA films Home as well as Kung Fu Panda 2 at the same point in their sale cycles. Box office pundits also noted that the film didn't face any serious competition with its counterparts of newly released films such as The Finest Hours and Fifty Shades of Black, as well as holdovers The Revenant and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as all are expected to gross around $10 million. In China, expectations were high for the film with Nancy Tartaglione of Deadline.com reporting a bigger opening weekend than the U.S. and a bigger total gross. Conservative estimates for its Middle Kingdom opening were at $35 million and rising to well upwards of $50 million. Even before the film's official release in China, it was already projected to emerge as the highest-grossing animated film there, a record currently held by Monkey King: Hero Is Back ($153 million), since it had the added benefit of opening a week before the Chinese New Year, as well as Valentine's Day and debuting amidst the school holidays, the Lunar New Year blackout period in which foreign films are banned from entering the state meaning lesser competition and longer legs, and since it has the special privilege to run throughout the period and is also not limited to running 30 days in theaters.
The film was released in China on January 22, 2016 in a limted release, a week before its United States release. It had a 3-hour special sneak preview where it earned $6.4 million from two different versions of the film topping the daily box office charts. This broke the previous Saturday preview record held by Surprise: Journey to the West. Buoyed by good word-of-mouth, it had a single day opening of $16.3 million which is the biggest of 2016 thus far and uncluding previews from its Saturday showings earned a total of $23.1 million which is one of the biggest opening and single day gross in China.
Kung Fu Panda 3 has received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 86%, based on 161 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Kung Fu Panda 3 boasts the requisite visual splendor, but like its rotund protagonist, this sequel's narrative is also surprisingly nimble, adding up to animated fun for the whole family". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 66 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Kung Fu Panda: Showdown of Legendary Legends is a single and multiplayer RPG martial arts video game that features characters from all three Kung Fu Panda films. Developed by Vicious Cycle Software and published by Little Orbit, the game was released on December 1, 2015 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo 3DS, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. The Wii U version was released on December 15, 2015.
In January 13, 2016, Collider asked the filmmakers of Kung Fu Panda 3 about the possibility of a fourth film. 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." 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."
The studio confirmed that Mads Mikkelsen is indeed no longer on the project, but because his character has been rewritten.