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Kung Fu Panda 3 has made a rather big change to its casting line-up only four months ahead of its big screen release in cinemas. According to new reports, Rebel Wilson is now out of the cast, and Kate Hudson has come in as her replacement. The Almost Famous star has taken over the character of Mei Mei, who will be the romantic lead in the third installment to the franchise.
The Hollywood Reporter was the first to confirm that Rebel Wilson has now left the film, explaining that an extended production schedule is to blame for her departure. Unfortunately, because the Australian comedienne is a rather busy so-in-so nowadays, she’s been unable to accommodate this request, and has been forced to move on.
This situation left Dreamworks Animation in quite a bind – a bind that has forced them to completely erase all of the good work that Wilson had already completed for the production. Kate Hudson, who is currently filming director Garry Marshall’s Mother’s Day alongside Jennifer Aniston, will now come into the studio to record new vocals for Mei-Mei. The character has rather delightfully been described as an eccentric ribbon-dancing panda that is obsessed Jack Black’s Po.
But the work won’t stop there, because Dreamworks Animation have confirmed that they are now going to re-animate the character to suit Kate Hudson’s performance. It’s hard to know if Kate Hudson’s addition to Kung Fu Panda 3’s cast is a good thing for the film or not. There’s no denying the fact that Hudson is a hugely talented actress, but her comedic chops don’t really compare to Rebel Wilson’s. Sure, her appearance in Clear History proved that she can provide mirth when called upon, but can she generate belly laughs in the same way that Rebel Wilson can? The answer, sadly, is no.
In fact, the thought of Rebel Wilson and Jack Black playing off of each other was one of the big appeals for Kung Fu Panda 3, especially since their sparring would have helped to make the film different to its two predecessors. Instead, Kate Hudson will now appear, and, to be perfectly honest, that fails to generate the same excitement.
Kate Hudson isn’t the only new addition to the ensemble cast. Whiplash’s J.K. Simmons, who rightfully won an Academy Award for his delightfully intense performance in the acclaimed jazz flick, will appear, while the always wonderful Bryan Cranston will voice Po’s biological father Li Shan.
Dreamworks has big hopes for Kung Fu Panda 3, as they pray that the sequel will bring an end to their recent string of flops. That’s why they’re being so meticulous with its $140 million production. We’ll see if it’s worth that much when the film is finally released on January 29, 2016.