Kung Fu Panda 2 is one of most inviting movies on Children's Day 2011. Two years ago, A Bao, the name of the loveable panda character played by Jack Black, was a hit raked in $600 million around the globe. In China, the film easily earned 200 million yuan.
This year, A Bao, who is said to have more Chinese characteristics, is looking forward to bring in 600 million yuan at the Chinese box office. Jennifer Yuh, the Korean-American director, included elements of Chengdu to give the film a more authentic feel.
As Kung Fu Panda 2 was mapped out, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg led a creative team working on Kung Fu Panda 2 to Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and Jinsha Site to find inspiration. At the giant panda base, they were lucky enough to hug the newborn cubs. The research base named the giant panda which Katzenberg hugged A Bao after the character in the movie.
In the sequel, traditional characteristics of Chengdu are well-represented. The film features images of local food such as Ma-po's bean curd and Sichuan noodles as well as famous scenic spots like Qingcheng Mountain. Even the mystery of A Bao's birth is revealed in this city.
"I, with my creative team, went to Chengdu and all of us were fascinated by the scenery, culture and history there," Yuh said. "Our inspiration was stimulated by so many things."
Kung Fu Panda 2 : Hollywood's Love Letter to China
At the beginning of Kung Fu Panda 2, the main character A Bao and the Furious Five appear on an age-old street with grey bricks, green roofs, wide roads and narrow lanes.
One can't help linking the scene with Chengdu Jinli. Some viewers found that vendor stalls on both sides of the street appeared exactly as they do in reality. A couple of Chinese characters meaning "handicraft" appear on one of vendor stalls. And images of Chengdu's well-renowned Sichuan noodles and Sichuan hot pot are strewn throughout.
DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said the sequel's manuscript had been finalized before the visit to Chengdu, but the visit totally changed Kung Fu Panda 2. He also said the gate of Qingcheng Mountain was stealthily grafted in the Valley of Peace.
The movie trailer shows a glimpse of Qingcheng Mountain and the full-length film features about 20 minutes of Chengdu scenery. The crew's visit to Chengdu contributed significantly to the involvement of the Chinese audience.
Some experts believe Kung Fu Panda 2 skillfully blends the movie with the urban culture of Chengdu. The film personally touched the Chinese market because the Chinese audience is very familiar with traditional Sichuan elements. Those characteristics seemed to bridge the gap between the American-made film and its Chinese audience. At the same time, the typically Chinese elements in the film expose overseas audiences to Chinese culture.
At the preview in Los Angeles, the creative team said that Kung Fu Panda earned 200 million yuan, and they expect that Kung Fu Panda 2 will attract over 600 million yuan.
The movie is set to hit the big screen on May 28 and is expected to boom at the box office. As Katzenberg said, Kung Fu Panda is Hollywood's love letter to China.