Dustin Hoffman's contract included a stipulation, which allowed him to do additional voice recording sessions without hindrance, should he be unsatisfied with his performance. Beyond the contract, Hoffman also tutored Jack Black on his performance in the nighttime stairway argument scene.
(at around 19 mins) The scene where Po enters the Jade palace, where he is amazed by all the relics, is based on one of the directors's first experience entering the Skywalker Ranch of George Lucas, the place where all the props from the Star Wars movies can be found.
To get the ambiance of the film, production designer Raymond Zibach and art director Heng Tang spent years researching Chinese art and kung fu movies. This effort, combined with the rest of the crew's extensive research and knowledge of Chinese culture, so impressed the Chinese that there were meetings by official government cultural bodies to discuss why their own country has not produced animated films of such quality themselves.
The opening scene is an homage to Japanese anime, as both directors are big fan of the genre. They wanted to distinguish the opening dream sequence, so it was hand drawn, whereas the rest of the film (with the further exception of the animation in the end credits) was CGI.
According to his online diary, Jackie Chan recorded his voice-overs during a single five-hour recording session in L.A. on October 15, 2007. He also recorded his lines for the Mandarin and Cantonese versions.
The Kung Fu/Wuxia convention, where attacks on the correct nerve/Chi points can cause paralysis and other effects, is adopted, although it is not explained in the film, and the jade figurine topped sticks on the shell worn on the imprisoned Tai Lung are positioned at the traditional Chi energy points of the body. The sticks are intended to keep the villain from accessing the power from those points, which is why he was first concerned about removing them before attempting to break his chains.
One character that needed revisions was Tai Lung, who continually seemed too sympathetic as the villain of the story. As a result, the producers included the sequence that illustrates the story Tigress told about Tai Lung's betrayal of his father's principles, and his rampage after being refused the Dragon Scroll to make him sufficiently despicable to the audience. By contrast, Po was refined by Jack Black and the writers from an unpleasant obsessed fan who unsettled his heroes to an affable martial arts lore devotee, painfully self-aware of his inadequacies.
The film was originally going to be a spoof of the kung fu genre, but one of the directors, John Stevenson, wanted to have a blend of comedy and action to make the film more epic, saying, "I wasn't interested in making fun of martial arts movies, because I really think they can be great films; they can be as good as any genre movie when they're done properly."
Oogway's Chinese name, as shown in the end credits, means "Tortoise" ("Wu-gui" in Pinyin transliteration). Oogway is a tortoise, and often wears a cassock with the markings of a stylized tai-ji/tai-chi fish diagram on his back.
WILHELM SCREAM: (at around 33 mins) When Tai Lung is escaping prison and is hitting the Rhino guards with a mace. He flings a guard into the air and when he kicks the guard through the door, just before he lands, you hear it.
Tai Lung's Chinese name, as shown in the end credits, means "Big/Great Dragon" ("Da-long" in Pinyin transliteration). Tai Lung is a snow leopard, which is why he is white, with a long bushy tail, and has rosette markings.
As with most DreamWorks animated films, Hans Zimmer (collaborating with John Powell this time) 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.
The circular marking on Mantis' back contains the stylized rendering of a Chinese art character for "longevity" ("Shou" in Pinyin transliteration), which is commonly used in paper cuttings, wooden panels, silk prints, etc.
Baseball player Pablo Sandoval earned the nickname of "Kung Fu Panda," after leaping around a tag at home plate against the Dodgers on September 19, 2008. Teammate Barry Zito commented that he thought that Sandoval looked like the Kung Fu Panda in avoiding the tag.
The idea for the film was conceived by story artist Jed Diffenderfer, but was pitched by Dreamworks Animation exec Michael Lachance as his own. Diffenderfer was let go as a part of the usual layoffs associated with film wraps, but was hired back when existing creative heads could not reproduce the Kung Fu Panda story style. The original story reel can be found on Jed Diffenderfer's website.
The idea for the film was conceived by Michael Lachance, a DreamWorks Animation executive. The film was originally intended to be a parody, but director John Stevenson decided instead to shoot an action comedy wuxia film that incorporates the hero's journey narrative archetype for the lead character.
(at around 5 mins) When Po's Father gives him noodle soup for the tables, he says that they go to four different numbers: two, five, seven, and twelve. There is a pattern to these numbers; the number added to the previous number equals the next number. For instance, 2+5=7, 5+7=12.
This is the 2nd Dreamworks Film to use someone other than the Fisher Boy to be sitting on the Dreamworks Logo at the start of the film. In the case of this one it's a Martial Arts Monkey (not the Character named Monkey) who makes his way up not using Balloons. The first film like that being The Cat in the Hat (2003). This would even be the case for the Logo Variants of Later Dreamworks films in the Updated Logo introduced in How to Train Your Dragon (2010), examples include Kung Fu Panda's Sequels.
at around 1h 14 mins) When Tai Lung asks Po, "What are you gonna do, big guy? Sit on me?" the question becomes prophetic. Later, when the two are tumbling down the stairs, Po does indeed sit on Tai Lung's head.
After this film's release, In 2011, there has been a lawsuit where a writer named Terence Dunn had sued Dreamworks Animation for stealing the idea of this film from him. Dunn alleged that Dreamworks Animation had stolen his pitch for a "spiritual kung-fu fighting panda bear" which he had sent to a Dreamworks executive in 2001. Dreamworks Animation later denied any wrongdoing and after a two week trail the jurors found in favor of Dreamworks.