Kung Fu Panda is a 2008 American computer-animated martial arts comedy film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It is the first installment in the Kung Fu Panda franchise. Directed by John Stevenson (in his feature directorial debut) and Mark Osborne, the film stars the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Randall Duk Kim, James Hong, Dan Fogler, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Jackie Chan. The film is set in a version of ancient China populated by anthropomorphic animals and revolves around a bumbling panda named Po, a kung-fu enthusiast. When a notorious snow-leopard named Tai Lung is foretold to escape from prison, Po is unwittingly named the "Dragon Warrior" – a prophesied hero worthy of reading a scroll said to grant its reader limitless power.The film was originally conceived by Michael Lachance, a DreamWorks Animation executive. It was originally intended to be a parody of martial arts films, but director Stevenson decided instead to make an action-comedy wuxia film that incorporates the hero's journey narrative archetype for the lead character. The computer animation in the film was more complex than anything DreamWorks had done before. As with most DreamWorks Animation films, Hans Zimmer (this time collaborating with John Powell) scored Kung Fu Panda. He visited China to absorb the culture and get to know the China National Symphony Orchestra as part of his preparation.
Kung Fu Panda premiered in the United States on June 6, 2008. The film received positive reviews for its mature themes, faithfulness to the Chinese environment and tradition, action sequences, and writing. Kung Fu Panda opened in 4,114 theaters, grossing $20.3 million on its opening day and $60.2 million on its opening weekend, resulting in the number one position at the box office. The film became DreamWorks' biggest opening for a non-sequel film, making it the third highest-grossing film of 2008, the highest-grossing animated film of the year worldwide, and also had the fourth-largest opening weekend for a DreamWorks film at the American and Canadian box office, behind all three Shrek sequels. The film was nominated for the Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for best animated film, but lost both awards to WALL-E. The success of Kung Fu Panda launched a multimedia franchise and two sequels, with Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) and Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016) with a fourth film in the works for release in 2024.