Melissa Cobb, producer of DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda, spoke with us this morning about her first feature film receiving a Golden Globe nomination. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association recognized the action- comedy today, along with Disney’s Bolt and Disney/Pixar’s WALL’E. See the nomination story here www.animationmagazine.net/article/9334.
‘The biggest thing is the validation,’ Cobb says of the nomination. ‘You know hard as the artists work on these things and for how many years. They always do their best and when that gets recognized it makes a huge difference for everybody.’
Cobb is a former Disney and Fox exec who worked in live-action and produced a number of TV movies and documentaries before joining Team Panda at DreamWorks. As a fan of animation and the arduous process involved in bringing these stories to the screen, she wishes there were enough awards to go around, especially during such a competitive year.
‘Obviously it’s a great year for animation,’ Cobb remarks. ‘Both [WALL'E and Bolt] have gotten incredible recognition all over the world, so it’s tough competition. We were really supported so well by the foreign press this year. They really embraced the movie, which was a great honor for us.’
Kung Fu Panda earned more than $630 million at the box office worldwide, and was also well liked by critics. Asked why the film had such wide appeal, Cobb responds, ‘We tried to create a character that we cared abut because we were going to spend four years looking at the guy. In the character of Po, we found some qualities that people can relate to on a very personal level. That idea of feeling out of place, feeling like an underdog or that you’re never going to realize your dreams are things that people can relate to throughout the world. Really early on, the crew fell in love with the character and what Jack Black brought to it, and it really kept people inspired over the years we spent making it. On top of that, we really tried to be true to the mystery and the beauty of China. A big piece for us was trying to honor the art and culture of China, and I think the look of the movie is obviously something that critics and audiences responded to as well as the story.’
In addition to raking in the dough and garnering favorable notices, Kung Fu Panda was recently recognized by the animation community, picking up a whopping 17 Annie Award nominations. Winners for that competition will be announced on Friday, Jan 30 at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles, Calif. Another date the crew at DreamWorks Animation is looking forward to is Thursday, Jan. 22. That’s when the Oscar nominations come out. However, Cobb tells us an Oscar nod would just be icing on the cake after all the great things that have happened with the film so far.
At the moment, Cobb is working on the Kung Fu Panda sequel, which is slated to hit theaters on June 3, 2011. This time, the kicks and punches will be coming at us in 3-D, which Cobb says is a game changer. ‘It’s sort of like being given a new color to paint with all of a sudden,’ she comments. ‘It’s pretty exciting and we’re really looking at the potential to use it to enhance the storytelling. We have some really interesting approaches we’re playing with and testing for how we can best use that tool to best immerse you in the story. It’s a very new frontier!’