|In the greatest example of film titling since Snakes on a Plane, Dreamworks Animation today announced that they are planning to make Kung Fu Panda, with the mighty Jack Black set to star as the monochromatic martial arts machine.|
Black will voice a lazy panda who is prophesied to become the saviour of the pandas' home in the Valley of Peace – although we're guessing that to do that, he'll need to learn kung fu.
While the results last time Jack Black voiced a DreamWorks animated film were less than spectacular (Shark Tale), we've got our fingers firmly crossed for this one. The film will be directed by Mark Osborne and John Stevenson, and has been written by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab (who also wrote the upcoming Monster House), and is due in 2008, along with Madagascar 2.
For 2009 and beyond, DreamWorks – which plans to release two films a year – has four more potential films in development. How To Train Your Dragon is based on the kids' book by Cressida Cowell, and tells the story of a Viking chief's son who must capture a dragon as a rite of passage. That is set to be directed by Lorna "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" Cook and written by Will Davies.
Rex Havoc is about a monster hunter who assembles a team of monsters to battle off aliens. Rex's assistants include Ick!, Dr Cockroach, the 50,000 Pound Womand and Insectosaurus. That one is set to be directed by Conrad "Shrek 2" Vernon and Rob "Shark Tale" Letterman.
The last two films, which don’t have a director as yet, are It Came From Earth!, a reverse alien invasion story in which terrified Martians face the arrival of human astronauts, and Route 66, the story of Mulligan, a giant golf ball statue on the side of the titular legendary trans-American highway, which is in love with Betty, the giant blueberry above a produce stand across the street. When she (how does it know?) is carted away, Mulligan the golfball rolls off to find her.
There are some unquestionably original concepts, but as always with these things it depends on the execution and story. It's also possible that some of these films might never happen, or at the very least might be pushed back to make way for a sequel to next year's Over the Hedge or Flushed Away, should either of those prove successful. We'll keep you up to date as we learn more.