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The Golden Age Of The Panda Shines Brighter
Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the director of "Kung Fu Panda 2,” had three different titles on first "Kung Fu Panda” – Head of Story, Actions Sequences Supervisor and Dream Sequence Director. And just as Po followed his path to becoming the Dragon Warrior, Nelson had her own journey.

States producer Melissa Cobb, "Jen was there from the beginning, and was really instrumental in helping to shape the story. If there is anyone who knows this material, these characters and this world, it is Jen. Her becoming the director of ‘Kung Fu Panda 2' was the most natural progression imaginable.”

Says director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, "I grew up with Hong Kong action movies, and I brought that sensibility as Head of Story on ‘Kung Fu Panda.' I was pretty gung ho for all of us to be in that mindset, and I continued that push on this film. I think one of the keys is that we're all conversant in that vernacular now. And in working on ‘Kung Fu Panda 2,' that shared experience has come with us, and it informs the story we are telling and the manner in which it is told. Our goal was to take ‘Kung Fu Panda' and Po to the next level.”

Just as Po has become a better warrior, his newest adventure reflects his deeper immersion into the world of kung fu. Per Nelson: "This film follows more in the tradition of martial arts movies—there are often questions that arise about a newly anointed hero's past and there are those who seek to challenge his authority.

"Since the release of ‘Kung Fu Panda', there has been one burning question that people are desperate to answer. The question that defies explanation is: Why is Po's dad a goose? For Po, the Dragon Warrior, it was logical for him to finally realize his father is not his biological father and to seek his origin. While doing so, he learns his past is tied to Lord Shen. The peacock's challenge is not random, it is the working of fate—something that also figures prominently in martial arts films. And it is only when he learns the truth about who he is that Po is able to confront Shen and his army.”

"In the first film,” continues Nelson, "we learned that heroes come in all shapes and sizes as Po fulfilled his destiny and became the Dragon Warrior. In the sequel, we learn that fate leads us to our destiny – bringing people into our lives that protect us and those that challenge us…allowing us to realize our full potential.”

Po's story began in the summer of 2008, when DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda” hit motion picture screens around the globe. The tale of the day dreaming noodle maker with aspirations of kung fu greatness found a widespread audience who happily accompanied Po on his journey from kung fu super fan to kung fu hero. The action-packed family comedy grossed more than $633 million worldwide, was nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature Film and took home 10 Annie Awards (the animation industry's highest honor).

States producer Cobb, "With the first film, we really did set out to make an animated movie that people could enjoy with their families for years to come. We were intent on making a film that felt timeless, while being respectful to the kung fu action genre. We knew when we made the first film that we created a character with a lot of depth and levels of story we weren't able to touch on. What we have in the sequel is the evolution of a hero—which isn't a straight path, or a standard arc. And evolution takes time, so we're committed to going with Po on his journey. When ‘Kung Fu Panda 2' started to take shape, it was an organic extension of the story that we began.”

‘Kung Fu Panda' screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger were thrilled to return to continue Po's story. Aibel sums up the thoughts and feelings of the creative teams when he offers, "Working on the first, it was fantastic, a giant collaboration. I think the best thing we can say about the group of people working on the first movie is that they all wanted to be a part of the second movie. That's pretty rare in Hollywood…I mean, the heads of nearly every department on this movie were in the same job on the first movie. People say once they started working for Po, they didn't want to leave.”

"I think that also means,” Aibel continues, "that a lot of our time was spent on the first movie laying the groundwork for the environment and building the characters and now, a lot of that creative energy was freed up to push the limits and see how much more fun we could have—this meant bigger action sequences, deeper character work, a larger look at this amazing world.”

Joining those already mentioned, among the ranks of film artisans returning to "Kung Fu Panda 2” are: production designer Raymond Zibach; head of character animation Dan Wagner; editor Clare Knight; art director Tang Kheng Heng; composers John Powell and Hans Zimmer and supervising animator, kung fu choreographer and storyboard artist Rodolphe Guenoden, among others.

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