UPDATE 1-DreamWorks Animation in talks for "Panda" sequel

Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:15pm EDT

(Adds details, paragraph 7, 10-12)

By Jennifer Martinez

LOS ANGELES Aug 13 (Reuters) - DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc DWA.N Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said on Wednesday the movie studio was in talks to make a sequel to box office hit "Kung Fu Panda" and could make an announcement within two months.

"We've started conversations about it, and I think in the next 30 or 60 days, we'll be able to talk completely about that," Katzenberg told Reuters, when asked about a follow-up to a film that has raked in $560 million in global ticket sales.

Set in China, "Kung Fu Panda," voiced by Hollywood funnyman Jack Black, follows the journey of a clumsy-yet-lovable panda named Po in his efforts to become a kung fu warrior.

Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogan and Lucy Liu are among the other Hollywood heavyweights that lent their voices to the film.

Katzenberg was speaking to reporters at a screening for portions of the studio's upcoming animated film "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," set for a U.S. release on Nov. 7.

The original "Madagascar" in 2005, which tells of animals on the loose from New York's Central Zoo, had been DreamWorks Animation's biggest hit for a non-sequel movie with $530 million in global ticket sales until being passed by "Panda" in recent weeks.

Katzenberg said the company would produce and release at least one -- and possibly two -- more "Madagascar" movies after the upcoming sequel.

More "Madagascar" films and a "Panda" sequel will likely come as good news to DreamWorks Animation investors who saw shares in the studio slump in late July after the company warned of higher international marketing costs.

The company's stock had traded above $30 a share in July before slipping to about $28 at the time of the warning on July 30. Since then, the shares have regained ground and were off 40 cents, or 1.3 percent at $30.44 in late Wednesday trade.

Elsewhere, Katzenberg said DreamWorks Animation is happy with releasing its films through Paramount Pictures, and he sees no changes to that relationship.

David Geffen and Steven Spielberg, who run the live-action film studio DreamWorks that is a unit of Paramount, are currently trying to leave the studio, and their plans have caused industry speculation that DreamWorks Animation might try to pull out of its distribution agreement with Paramount.

"For DreamWorks Animation, we are in great shape, happily ensconced in our distribution relationship with Paramount ... so no changes for us," said Katzenberg. (Editing by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Braden Reddall and Gunna Dickson)

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